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Books vs Ebooks: Pros and Cons?

Updated on June 16, 2015

I just sit in my office and read all day.

— Warren Buffet

I hope you too like the crisp sound and the pleasant fragrance of the pages of a newly bought book. While some book-lovers take pains to prevent the books from developing folded corners, some others design their own creative bookmarks for personal use. There are many others who are voracious readers whose hunger for books never seems to dip!

What makes books so popular?

The Feel:

Well the feel of paper is one reason. You just cannot have that human-like experience in a digital form of a book. Everything seems monotonous in the latter.

The Suspense:

While reading books, the suspense of the story goes on increasing with every page flipped and you can predict where exactly you are just by looking at the number of pages on the right and left sides of the book. I personally had this habit (now I have managed to control the same) of looking at how many more pages are left and sometimes used to even peep into the climax out of desperation to know the end result!

The Visual Appeal:

Some books have lots of pictures and illustrations which make for a more interesting experience. A picture is worth a thousand words and many a times we can predict the content purely based on the pictures.

You can Donate books:

When you have completely read a book and no longer need it, you can donate the book to someone else. In this way you can provide happiness to someone.

You can have more Interactions:

It is a common thing among friends or siblings to share their books. This also leads to increased bonding among them. There are numerous book lover's clubs which organise events wherein totally unfamiliar people meet to share their thoughts on a particular book or author. Thus you get to know some more real friends who share your passion.

More retention:

In a study, it was discovered that people tend to remember more from books than from E-readers like Kindle. They have suggested that in a book you can feel the exact number of pages that are left (or the ones that you have read) and hence you can make a subconscious note of the same in your brain.

I have personally felt this: Many a times when I try to remember some concept from my engineering reference book, I start imagining the following things:

  • The chapter.
  • If the answer was on the right or the left side of the book.
  • If there was some picture above or below the text.

Bookmarking:

As I mentioned earlier, there are people of the creative bent of mind who move a step ahead of reading. They make their own bookmarks!

The world's largest book
The world's largest book | Source
Source

The Advantages of Ebooks

Ease of carrying Ebooks:

A single e-reader is all that you need.

Also it is quite cumbersome to carry those big and popular books in public places and public transport like buses where a handheld device is more preferable. People have this habit of looking at what others read so an ebook at least saves you from the cover of the book getting exposed in case you are reading something that is uncomfortable to be read in public.

Additional extensions:

There are built-in features like text-to-speech conversion, automatic reading mode wherein you can even control the speed at which you read, highlighting and with more advanced readers you can even a more interactive experience. Moreover you can undo any highlighting that you have made previously. You can even comment (add a note) on some text like if you know something more about a word you can put it in the comment and save it for further reference.

You can search for words in an ebook and that is what I love about them. Unlike in books, where you will have to scan through the index or the appendix to find something.

Source
Source

A Lot of Paper is saved:

Just imagine the amount of paper that is saved because of ebooks and we keep on complaining about deforestation!

Robust and durable:

Ebooks can be kept for longer than their book counterparts because they are not easily damaged. Another reason is that they do not occupy space.

Less costly:

Ebooks are less costly and many of those classics are available for free. That implies you can read more with less efforts and save money too

Easy to find meanings:

You can always connect an external dictionary meant for Ebook readers or many of them have built-in dictionaries. The advantage is that you do not have to carry that extra burden in case you are reading a normal English text. Just tap on the word and it will display you the meaning then and there itself. Scientific and technical books will still require physical dictionaries.

Auto-save:

E-readers automatically save the last piece of text that you had read before closing. So no need of using techniques like folding the corner of the book or putting a bookmark in it.

Limitations of both

  • Ebooks cannot be shared as easily as books because there are restrictions on the reuse of an ebook.
  • Publishing books takes time but publishing ebooks is easier with all the advanced technology at your disposal.
  • Finding books of foreign languages or foreign books in native languages is difficult unless a translation exists and the book is very popular.
  • Good ebook websites are easier to browse through than commuting to quality bookstores.
  • Ebooks can distract you if you have access to Internet along with it because you tend to waste more time on the websites and spend less time on the reading. Continuous reading is on the fall because of this. Attention spans are reducing overall.
  • A bad ebook reader can do more harm to you and your eyes than a single bad book and it is difficult to change the reader as easily as you change books. Choosing a good e-reader is the most important step while reading ebooks.
  • Libraries do have more books but there are limitations on the time for which we can keep the books with us. Even for reading in a library there are rules which have to be followed.
  • E-waste too is a big problem but it would not be as much because one e-reader will last longer than a book or several books.

How much time do you spend in reading books over ebooks?

See results

A funny observation!

" You can use your book as a hand fan when there is no electricity but you cannot do it with an e-reader "

I have listed down the key points in a tabular form for your convenience. Please have a look at it.

Pros of ebooks
Cons of books
Comments
Trees are saved
Paper involved
However, nowadays recycling of paper is more efficient
Lightweight and portable
Heavy especially the popular big ones
Carrying one ebook reader is convenient than carrying so many books
No need of an external dictionary to be carried along
Dictionary has to be present for any difficult words
Just tap on the word and find meanind rather search for it in the dictionary
Foreign language ebooks easily available on the Internet
Local bookstores generally keep only native language books
Easy to read more of content using ebooks
Moving from one ebook to another is easy when bored with one or when you have to refer some other book to continue
You have to bookmark one and then read the other
Take pains to mark the page number of the previous book and then open the next and finally switch back to the first one. Ebook readers automatically save the last page read
Cheaper than books in many cases
Books may be costlier
Price is generally not an issue
Torrent is a great ebook source
No such facility
Easy to download any kind of ebook on Torrent
No restrictions on the reading intervals
Libraries impose restrictions on the time for which you can read the book and there are rules to be followed
No rules for ebooks.Read at your own pace
Why e-books are better?
Pros of books
Cons of ebooks
Comments
You can touch and feel the book
No human touch involved
With everything becoming digital, the human experience will be something that will be missed.
The exotic smell and the crisp sound of its pages
--
--
Eyes are not affected even if we read for long hours
Eyes can be strained if you choose the wrong reader
However, Kindle Paperwhite has a front lit screen which can lead to less straining of the eyes
Borrowing or lending books involves meeting people and bonding with them
You can only share ebook links or pdfs
When will we meet people and share our own reviews of the story if we keep sharing links!
No electricity
Electricity is consumed
That is not much of an issue
You can make creative bookmarks
Self-Bookmarking not possible
What about creativity!
You can draw funny pictures or sketches in them
No such feature
You will have to focus only on the reading!
Books induce sleep
Digital media deprives one of sleep
There are arguments stating that ebooks too can put people to sleep
Why books are better?
Source

Let the list grow!

I might have missed out many points of comparison while writing this hub. If you notice any worthy point not in the list, please share it in the comments section below. Let the list grow till no more point of comparison is left.

So who has the Upper Hand?

Well, I cannot say whether books will survive or e-books will take over the business in the near future. All I can say is readers will continue to read no matter which form the matter is presented in! Content is King after all!

© 2015 Ramachandra A Pai

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