E-Books vs. Print Books

E-Books vs. Print Books

Ever since the Kindle (and other comparable e-readers) came on the scene several years ago and e-books (books in a digital format) have been introduced as an alternative to print books, it posed an interesting question to those who enjoy reading – what’s better, reading the book electronically via tablet device, or flipping through the paper pages of a physical book? Trying to be as unbiased as possible, I’m going to weigh the potential pros and cons of each option. Then it’s up to you to decide which one you prefer the most.

E-Books: Pros / Print Book: Cons

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First I will discuss the main pros of getting e-books. After I break down the benefits of utilizing e-books, I will then point out the corresponding cons of print books.

  • E-Book Pro: Convenience. There’s no denying it: having an e-reader stocked with e-books makes it infinitely easier to carry around a huge selection of books without, you know, having to bring your whole bookcase everywhere you go. In one light tablet, you can carry around as many books as you want. The fact that you just need to touch the screen in order to turn the page without the hassle of keeping the pages open to the correct spot can also make it easier to read if you are at the gym, for example.
  • Print Book Con: Inconvenience. Expanding on that, let’s point out what I believe to be the biggest con of having the print book instead of the electronic version. Print books are not always the most convenient thing to lug around with you throughout the day. A slim paperback, maybe, but what if your current read is a rather hefty hardcover? Do you just make your peace and stuff it into an already full bag or backpack? Deal with the extra weight because at least you might be able to read fifteen pages while you eat your lunch? That is no way to live. 
  • E-Book Pro: Cheaper. I’ve discovered that the digital book tends to always be cheaper than the physical copy of the book. This can make a huge difference for those who want to save a few dollars here and there.
  • Print Book Con: Expensive. Sometimes books can be pretty expensive, especially if it’s a really nice hardcover of a novel that was recently released. You might splurge on the physical book and then realize later that the online version was like $10 cheaper. Regret may set in, depending.

Print Book: Pros / E-Book: Cons

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Now moving on to the pros of getting the print book over the e-book version. As I did above, I will first describe the print book pro and then move on to the corresponding con of the e-book.

  • Print Book Pro: Memorable. If you ask me, having the real book on your bookshelf and having to look at it on a daily basis makes the book just that more memorable. You can proudly display it and know that you invested in something that you can hold on to for a long time. Another reason why print books are memorable is that they can literally carry memories. Did someone inscribe a message on the cover page? Did you make notes in the margins or highlight your favorite lines? Do you like that the cover is creased, worn, or ripped because it shows that it has been well-loved? These are things that only print books can properly display.
  • E-Book Con: Forgettable. On the other hand, you may forget about the books that you have downloaded on your e-reader since they may have been free or listed for like 99 cents, so you thought “why not?” and ended up never thinking about it again. The digital books you buy may not be as meaningful to you. 
  • Print Book Pro: Tactile Experience. With a print book, you aren’t just buying reading material – you are buying an experience. Some people could not imagine buying an e-book because they vastly prefer the feel of real pages and the unique scent that books carry. With print books, you can hunt for rare editions in bookstores and lend friends your cherished copy of your favorite novel. Print books can be more than just books.
  • E-Book Con: No Tactile Experience. One of the biggest cons, ironically, of e-books is just the fact that they are indeed digital books. There’s no exploring bookstores and browsing over-stuffed shelves – instead, you calmly type the title into the search bar and click on it when it pops up. There’s a sense of detachment present when you go about finding your books. There’s no book in your hands while your reading, just a tablet.

There are, of course, more pros and cons out there regarding this subject, but these are the ones that stood out to me the most. While e-books and print books both raise interesting points, you might find yourself leaning towards one more than the other. If you feel at an impasse… it’s also okay to like both reading physical books while also recognizing that e-readers and e-books do provide some benefits.

Here at Sheepshead Review, we publish physical copies of our journal twice a year, for both our Fall and Spring issues. We are actually working on publishing our Spring 2018 issue right now, so be sure to check out our website and social media (FacebookInstagram, and Twitter) to keep up-to-date on all things Sheepshead Review.