Saturday, February 20, 2016

Paper Books: Pros and Cons

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).

Pretty cover art is the best!
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.

250+ Ebooks vs. 10 Mass Markets vs. 10 Larger Books
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.

Which do you prefer: paper books or ebooks (or audiobooks)? What are some other pros and cons of the physical book (that I was likely to busy thinking up abstract scenarios to ponder)?


  1. I have a plastic sleeve that my iPad goes into that is waterproof and floats in case I drop it in the tub. I like ebooks because I don't like the clutter of having a lot of books around. I know, that's bookworm blasphemy right there. I do like to be able to share paper copies of books though.

    1. No one realizes how much of a book problem I have until they go upstairs to "my" domain of the house (which is absolutely stuffed with books). I admit, I think I do prefer ereaders for many reasons, but I wouldn't have as many eclectic sorts of books (older editions, books that weren't reprinted [and aren't on Google Books]) to read and blog about if I stuck to ebooks. I hope you have a big book around to whack some intruder with, though. ;)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Heather!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. oh, paper books all the way! e-book is for when there is no other way I can get the book, often international titles or small press stuff that's only available electronically.

    when I experience reading a book, i experience it, totally. everything from how rough the paper is, to the typesetting, to how the chapter headings are done, to the bookmark telling me how far into the story I am, to the creases on the spine like the rings in a tree.

    lol, my husband and I are proof that size of apartment does not limit size of book collection! Last year we moved from our tiny one bedroom apartment into a bigger two bedroom. we moved 36 boxes of books out of the old apartment. i have no idea how those even fit in there!

    1. Good for you! Somehow, living in my grandparents' house (and having only one room of my own), I amassed a collection of 400+ books- it's amazing how many you can pack away- if you get creative (I stacked vertically- it was impressive... and perhaps a tad dangerous?).

      I thought about the typesettings and such too, when I first got an ereader- I'm like, why isn't the font different in all these books? I can't really choose right now if I like paper or 'plastic', but both definitely have their perks.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion, Redhead!
      ~Litha Nelle

  3. One potential pro for ebooks is the ability to immediately look up unfamiliar words. When I'm feeling lazy, the last thing I want to do is get up from reading my book and go get on the internet or lug my Webster's Collegiate dictionary off the shelf to look something up. On the other hand, sometimes it's fun to do that. Another pro is being able to buy the next book in a series as soon as you finish the last, regardless of what time it is. That might also be a con, though, since it could lead to impulse book buying.

    1. Yes! I'd kind of forgotten about that- whenever I'm in doubt, I use my tablet to Google words and phrases, but it's so much easier to just highlight the word and- ta da! Built in dictionary.
      I think the insta-buy one is a wolf in sheep's clothing- for instance, I *almost* bought the entire Farseer trilogy as an ebook after I enjoyed the first one- luckily I shopped around for a few weeks before buying it. I got the next two books in the series as paper copies, for less than half I would've paid. O_o I know Amazon must get bozo bucks from that feature on the Kindles, though!
      Thanks for stopping by and contributing, Rachelle!
      ~Litha Nelle

  4. E-books definitely win for convience, but I think paper books take the win over all.

    1. I agree, but it still depends on the person- like if you have eyesight issues, and need super big text (bigger than even large print editions can provide), it would be ebooks or audiobooks all the way. I've noticed I may need to have my sight checked, as reading paper books (with the smaller print) has really challenged me.
      Thanks for stopping by and giving your input, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle


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