eBook vs “Real” Book: Which Do You Prefer?

Most readers I talk with seem to have an opinion about the eBook vs “real” book debate. I myself never thought I would read a novel in digital format. I had the same argument as others I’ve heard: the tactile experience of a paper book is just too intimate, too cozy, too personal to give up. I mean, curling up with a digital device? Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

ebooks vs real books

But with the purchase of my first Kindle, I discovered a few things:

  • I read much faster with eBooks. I don’t know why this is, but I’ve tested the theory, and it’s true for me. An eBook holds my attention better, and I’m able to multi-task more easily while reading. Faster reading = more reading = happy me.
  • I’m able to “carry” more books with me at a time, allowing me to read whatever I’m in the mood for at any moment, even when I’m away from home.
  • I can preview eBooks before buying, avoiding the inevitable “I-bought-this-dud-and-now-I’m-stuck-with-it” trap I’ve been in many times with “real” books.

Having said all that…the disadvantages of eBooks have been:

  • I am definitely spending more money on books. Being able to simply click-and-buy has undone any self-discipline I had in keeping a tight book budget.
  • I love lending books to friends, which is more difficult (or impossible) with eBooks.
  • And as far as the tactile experience goes, I don’t miss the paper, but I do miss the covers. I love book covers.

Still, as much as I love my Kindle, I still purchase and borrow (YAY LIBRARIES!) paper books often.

What about you? Where do you stand on the eBook vs “real” book debate? Do you prefer one or the other, or a mix of both?

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  • I was a collector of books (hardcover first editions of my favourite authors) for many years and had amassed a collection of over 1000 hardcovers at one point a few years ago. When I made a decision to change my life direction and sold my home to live a much simpler life in an apartment I realized quickly that I couldn’t bring all of my books with me. After cutting my books by 3/4 I still had 30+ boxes of books to move. Those got placed into storage for a year while I decided what to do. I finally decided that it was a new time in my life and I couldn’t cart around the heavy clutter that was my library any longer and I let all but 12 books go. 

    And I bought a Kindle.
    Now 3 years later I have a Kindle plus Kindle apps installed on my desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. I have over 3000 ebooks that I can access anywhere, any time and the don’t take up extra space. They don’t require dusting. They don’t add to the clutter around me. 

    And since I’m 40+ and my Kindle & the Kindle apps all allow me to increase font size on the reader so I don’t have to wear my reading glasses all of the time.

    For non-fiction books in particular, the ability to highlight, bookmark and search within books for specific words or phrases has increased my productivity considerably.

    For fiction books, the ability to read when & wherever I have some free time is perfect. Doctor’s office waits, airplane, train, sitting in a cafe, as well as the ability to read it in bed without my glasses (as mentioned) has made me, a life-long book lover, fall in love.

    • What a fascinating story about you needing to downsize and de-clutter! That is amazing you were able to be disciplined enough to keep just 12 books!

      My husband and I collected several bookshelves worth of books during our college days and just beyond, but during an inter-state move, the truck crashed, and we lost most of our belongings, including a lot of our books (they were busted, torn, dirty, etc). We’ve really never built our collection back up, and I think that’s just fine with me. Because, like you, I also have a flourishing library on my Kindle. 🙂

      And I love that you brought up some things I didn’t – the font size, searching within books, etc. My college daughter has found that Kindle books are incredibly handy for when she has to write a paper on a particular theme or motif in a book – she can quickly search all the instances of a given phrase, character, or whatever, and it’s a huge help.

  • Anna

    I am a huge reader, and I never thought I’d be a fan of ebooks. But being 9 months pregnant and the mother of a very very active toddler, the thought of going to the library or bookstore makes me want to cry. Ebooks have become my saving grace. I love that I can browse and download new books at any time while laying on my couch. I love that I can check out books from the library at three in the morning when heartburn keeps me awake, and never worry about paying late fees. I know ebooks won’t ever completely replace regular books, but I am definitely a fan.

    • Yes, I have found that eBooks are incredibly helpful for a mom with full hands! 🙂 And I love that more libraries are carrying a growing selection of eBooks. I usually have at least one book from the library on my Kindle at all times!

  • I never ever thought I would be an ebook reader. But Dave bought me a Kindle Keyboard a few years ago and this Christmas I got the latest biggest Kindle Fire. I can run on the treadmill and read a book and very easily turn a page. It’s awesome! I wish our library had as large of a collection as they do Nook books, but I am always finding a way to earn Amazon gift cards to fund my habit. But you cannot underestimate the joy of immediate gratification of being able to download a book and continue reading a story from wherever and whenever.
    I still visit our library at least weekly and bring home a stack of books. There is something about a real, regular book that I will never get over!

    • Oh, I didn’t even think about reading on a treadmill (probably because I don’t use a treadmill), but that’s got to be super handy! I’m with you, though – a nice balance between paper and digital is just right.