Tuesday, January 24, 2017

[Bookish Discussion] Physical Books vs. E-Readers

This is a controversial topic that often gets heated between the book community. I think that people are very defensive about how they read because reading is such an intimate and personal activity. I am going to discuss my preferences, but also the pros and cons of both ways of reading. This post is completely for discussing, not bashing people's opinions, and not making anyone feel unwelcome. Hopefully everyone can respect each others opinions and we can all just embrace the fact that everyone here is being passionate about reading. It's all the same story, no matter how you choose to read it.

Book Cover and Shelf Aesthetics

For e-readers (in my case, my Kindle Paperwhite), this is definitely a con. Because the screen is all in black and white, and it's a small photo of the cover (and on some e-readers, just the title) it's not as visually pleasing to look at. Where with physical copies lines up on the shelf it's a beautiful sight. I'd be lying if I said that walking into a room with floor to ceiling filled bookshelves doesn't make my heart flutter. Plus book covers can be downright gorgeous. If the book cover looks like a piece of art I want to frame on my wall right there I am impressed. Which is one of the reasons why if I read a book on my kindle that has a beautiful cover I will re-buy it for my shelves. Because I am a sucker for beautiful copies. No matter how many books are lined up on my e-reader screen it'll never look as pretty as a room filled with bookshelves of physical copies.

Space and Storage

This is one of the ways e-readers definitely have an advantage. My kindle holds over a thousand books, currently I have only eighty downloaded but I have over 400 books on my account that I have bought over the six years since having my first kindle. If I go on a trip I can carry my kindle with my and that's all and I'll be set. It's one of my favorite things about the kindle. When it comes to physical books, it's harder to travel and it's definitely harder when it comes to living in small spaces. I live in a one bedroom apartment with a small bookshelf. I have a stack of books near the bookshelf, on my desk, and boxes of books hidden away in a little storage hallway. One day I would love to live in a place where all my books are out of their boxes and displayed for guests to see, but for now I only get to showcase about a hundred of my books. Which honestly should be less, but I have stolen some of my boyfriend's shelves because I am a brat. The fact that I can showcase that many books is more than others, especially teenagers who maybe do not have their own rooms, or their own spaces for books. Or maybe someone living in a studio apartment where it's smaller and there's less space. With a kindle it holds up to a thousand books, and it can go on your nightstand.

Price and Expenses

This is one where I think although people assume e-readers have an advantage, I think it can be pretty equal if you don't mind used books. If you go into a bookstore to the clearance section, go to used local bookshops, or even go online you can easily get some good book deals for physical copies. I think that e-books are definitely an easier way to save money, if you're not a fan (or like me, probably not very good) at finding good book deals. I get daily emails about good e-book deals for my kindle like Goodreads Deals, Bookperk, Bookbub, Early Bird Books, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy. It's a lot of emails, and most days I don't end up downloading anything, but some days I will find a book I have had my eye on that is either for free or less and three dollars. There is also a list of free books (many classics and first books of long series) that are just there for downloading at your convenience. Of course, all of this is so you can own the books you're acquiring. If you don't care much about that you can always go to the library (the actual building or Overdrive), which is a great way to read the books you want to without buying anything.

Holding Physical Copies vs. a E-reader

This is a very popular answer to both sides of the argument and neither are invalid. Holding a e-reader tends to be easier, it's lightweight, you can eat or drink while reading and worrying about juggling too much and there's no flipping of pages involved. Where when holding physical copies there's just something comforting and nostalgic about holding a book and reading it. I read a lot late at night as a kid under my blanket with a book light. I fell asleep with books under my pillow or beside me as I passed out from exhaustion. The smell of books, the feeling of the pages, it's a nostalgic thing but it's also an experience that cannot be duplicated with an e-reader. I completely understand both sides. On a more logical standpoint, I prefer e-readers, but on an a more emotional standpoint, nothing beats a book.

Reading Speed and Highlighting

When it comes to reading speed between e-readers and physical copies personally for me, I read faster on an e-reader. There's less moving around and shifting the book to get comfortable because of the weight of the book, there's no turning of pages or having to adjust the hardcover jacket of the book because it keeps sliding as you hold it. Instead it's just the e-reader, the same weight every time with just a button or touch screen. It's quick and simple. When it comes to which type of reading is better for highlighting, it depends what kind of reader you ask. For me, I personally pick the e-reader again. It's an easy few steps to highlight a passage, take a note, or look up a definition of a word. Where with physical copies, I tend not to like writing inside my books so I have to type the passage up on my phone, write either the passage or the notes down in a notebook, or take a photo of the passage on my phone for later. I tend not to look up words as much reading a physical book, it is a lot of hassle, but with my e-reader all you have to do is hold down the word. Of course, some people haven't got a problem looking up words they read in physical copies, all power to them, it's just not something I tend to find myself doing.

Thank you for reading! 

What do you prefer? Have I missed anything important on either side that you think is vital to the discussion? I'd love to know everyone's opinions.


  1. AWESOME post! You know I enjoy ebooks every now and again :)

    But I think my main issue with e-books is that I have a really hard time justifying paying for one. I'm the same way with music; I'd much rather buy a physical copy of an album rather than keeping my fingers crossed that iTunes doesn't delete my entire library (yet again...thanks iTunes!). Granted, I still buy ebooks every now and then when we see them on sale, just like I still buy songs from iTunes. For some reason it's just not my thing.

    My favorite pro about ebooks: you just can't beat the ease of carrying the kindle to the gym rather than bringing a bulky book along!

    1. Ah shoot, I hit enter and then immediately was like- WAIT I'M NOT DONE!

      To follow up with the "For some reason it's just not my thing." I wanted to add that maybe this will change in the future as the publishing world and technology continues to change :)

    2. I actually have the opposite problem when it comes to buying e-books vs physical copies! I am way likely to click the simple one click "buy" button on amazon than I am to go through the process of making a cart or standing in line at a book store. I get buyers guilt so easily beforehand, so with buying e-books I do it so quickly I cannot feel guilt. Now thinking about it, this may be the reason why I have too many e-books to read. I have an e-book buying addiction.

      And oooh I never thought of the gym aspect but that is a great point!

      I wonder if publishers and book makers are more focused on making beautiful covers now that e-books have gotten so popular? I see so many more beautiful covers (not complaining) in the past few years than I did in college. I can't wait to see what future is in store for e-readers but also how the physical aspect of books will change.

      Also thanks for reading and commenting <3 you're the best.

  2. Great post!! I personally hate e-books - I find I just can't get into the story and enjoy it to the full if I'm reading on a screen - and so I love physical books and try to only read those! I hope physical books never go "out of style" anytime soon - that would be so disappointing.

    New follower :)
    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

    1. Thanks! I dont think physical books or e-readers are going anywhere! Physical books have a history that seems to be too engraved in our everyday lives. Physical books are a great comfort. I absolutely love them. Walking into a bookstore or library is the definition of happiness.

      Just a heads up! A lot of kindles, like my kindle paperwhite, do not have screens like phones and computers. They have e-ink screens so it's very similar to books. Just in case you'd want to give it a try. I couldn't ever just read on a computer type screen. My eyes would kill me after a while haha!

      Thanks for following! xx