Throughout this month, I've been thinking a lot about what I like about paper books, and what I don't like much at all. Here I've compiled my list of paper book pros and cons.
Pros of the Paper Book:
1. The ability to give, resell, or borrow for long periods of time.
2. The ability to smell a book in order to detect how old it is (or if someone borrowed it without asking).
3. The ability to admire a book individually, and feature it on your shelves.
4. Paper books are collectibles- ebooks are definitely not. An author can sign your ereader, but not your ebook. You can pass down a book as a family heirloom.
5. Paper books never need a recharge or batteries.
6. Paper books can be read in the bathtub without much worry (unless you have a bad grip or like to splash).
7. If an intruder enters your house, you can always bash the back of his head with that huge edition of Harry Potter, a dictionary, or other reference book. An intruder is likely not intimidated by your slim e-reader, even when it is held menacingly.
8. Paper books need light to be read, but research says that lit screens can be harmful to sleep quality around bedtime (kind of a pro-because of con, but it fits).
9. Paper books come in a multitude of styles: you can have different cover art (if you want that certain cover art), or you can have a lighter paperback or a heavier and sturdier hardcover. With ebooks, it's mostly one size fits all- and sometimes, you end up with cover art you aren't keen on.
10. Paper books give you an opportunity to touch, grasp, and hug your favorite book. In a weird way, they feel warm. Ebooks are hidden in a cold, mechanical device that may someday fail you.
Cons of the Paper Book:
1. Paper cuts innocent fingers. Paper drinks the blood of bookworms.
2. Space: you can only own so many books, especially if you live in an apartment.
3. Size: it's much easier to travel with a slim ereader than ten bulkier paper books.
4. Cleanliness: if you spill coffee on a paper book, it leaves permanent marks. If you spill coffee on an ereader, you have to (likely) buy a new ereader, but your ebook is still in pristine shape.
5. Ability to access book whenever and wherever it's wanted on multiple devices.
6. Weight: some of us have trouble holding heavier books for long periods of time- ebooks weigh only as much as their e-reader.
7. Ebooks are easier to read if you have certain eye conditions. I love the high contrast, black background with white text reading my Kindle offers. Ebooks on the Kindle can also be read aloud to you by a robotic voice, but it still helps if you can't afford audiobook versions.
8. Some ebooks can be read without lights- depending on the device used to read them. If you live in a cave without electricity and don't have night vision, it's a definite plus, if you consider the hazards of candlelight reading (think fire).
9. You don't need a bookmark/random scrap of paper for an ereader.
10. All your highlights and notes are saved in one place, something you'd have to use a notebook or Goodreads for in a paper book.
Topics to Think About:
Permanence and the Paper Book
An interesting topic of discussion is whether paper or digital books are more permanent. For example, if you lost your house to a flood- a giant flood (or other natural disaster)- you would likely lose all your paper books to mold. On the other hand, if you had digital books, those would still be retrievable, as long as you had internet access (which is pretty common, these days).
Depending on the site, the title of eco-friendly can go to either party, or so it seems (it really depends on how much you read and your reading style). The best take on this seems to be using your library card, and buying used books instead of new. If you have an e-reader, take care of it so it lasts- and don't throw it away.
Learning and the Paper Book
A Washington Post article states that: "Over 92 percent of those I surveyed said they concentrate best when reading a hard copy." If we concentrate better (or even think we do), isn't that an enormous benefit? While the science of this is debatable (which is why I put it under Topics to Think About), I have to admit that I, too, get readily distracted while reading an ebook. Usually, I turn the Wifi off, but even then, I feel like I'm more likely to skim.