Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.
The Great Debate: Print vs. Digital
Even with the rising popularity of eReaders (like Amazon Kindle) and mobile eReading apps, many readers still prefer physical print books. Though many people prefer the tactile feel of traditional printed media, eBooks do have some distinct benefits and offer versatility that print cannot. While print books aren’t going away anytime soon, there are many situations in which eBooks provide an advantage over traditional paper media.
1. eBooks Are Instant
With eBooks, you don’t even need to leave your house to buy new titles or borrow them from your local library. You can purchase them directly from a digital bookstore and download them instantly to your device. Even libraries now offer digital eBook lending, so you can instantly download titles for free without ever having to visit the library. You can acquire an entire library of new books on your eReader while still wearing your pajamas or sitting on your couch.
2. eBooks Are More Portable Than Print
Printed books, especially hardbound editions, can be very heavy, while most modern eReader devices are lightweight. It's much easier to carry an eReader containing an entire library of titles than to bring even a few physical books. If you finish reading one on your trip, it is much simpler (and cheaper!) to download a new eBook than to find a bookstore. If you have your collection synced to a cloud service, you can seamlessly switch to reading on your phone if you find yourself with extra time to kill but didn’t think to bring your eReader.
If you purchase only electronic textbooks, it will be much easier to carry them home and back to class. You can even load all of your books to the phone that you already carry with you anyway. This allows you to keep your entire library in your pocket, so your textbooks will be available to you wherever you are. This would allow you to study anytime you have a few minutes free, such as waiting in line at a coffee shop.
3. There Are No Late Fees for Library eBooks
If you borrow a physical book from the library and forget to return it, you will be charged a late fee. Many libraries also now offer eBook loans in addition to their print book offerings. You don't have to return them by any due date—instead, their licenses will simply expire on your device. You will never be hit with a surprise late fee for digital loans. eReaders make accessing library materials easier than ever.
4. eReaders Have Built-In Dictionaries
It can be frustrating to come across a word that you don’t know while reading a print book. You either have to find a physical dictionary or pull up your phone or tablet to look it up. Most of the time, you probably don’t bother, and are just left wondering. Most modern eReaders have built-in dictionaries that allow you to look up words by tapping on any word you don’t know. The dictionary definition will appear right on the screen without you even needing to leave the app.
5. eBooks Take Up Much Less Space
Avid readers tend to collect a lot of books, which can take up too much space and make your home feel cluttered. However, even the largest collection of eBooks won’t take up much physical space in your home. It is much easier to manage a large digital library than bookshelves filled with hundred or thousands of books that you will likely never reread.
6. You Can Customize Font Size and Style in eBooks
Unlike print, eBooks allow you to change the font size or even the font style. If you require large-print books, you can adjust any eBook to be readable to you, but with print, you are limited to titles that are available in large print editions. You can also usually customize the font used in eBooks if you don’t care for the default style.
7. eBooks Give You Better Access to Indie Titles
There are many independent, self-published authors who only have their work available in digital formats. Many of these titles include novellas and short stories that would be too short to publish on their own in print, but which are perfectly suited to reading digitally. Owning an eReading device gives you access to writing that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to read.
8. eReaders Can Be More Environmentally Friendly Than Print Books
It may seem strange to think than an electronic device could have less of an impact on the environment than traditional books, but eReaders can take fewer resources to create than a large number of books. Manufacturing one Kindle produces as much CO2 as producing 30 print books. Most avid readers will offset this figure in less than a year by switching to eBooks. While paper can be recycled, the paper recycling process itself can cause environmental pollution because of the sludge that is produced during the de-inking process.
9. eBooks Can Be Read in the Dark
Because eReaders are backlit, you don’t need to have an external light source to read them—you can read in the dark or in low-light situations anywhere. As long as your eReader is charged, you can read in bed, during power outages, or outside in the evening without needing an external light. This allows you to read eBooks in many more situations than you can traditional print books.
10. New Releases Are Usually Cheaper as eBooks
eBooks are typically released at the same time as their print counterparts but are often cheaper to purchase. If you prefer to buy books rather than borrowing from a library or a friend, you can save some money by sticking to digital releases. This may not be true for older titles that are generally available at steep discounts from used bookstores.
eBooks Are Here to Stay
There are many reasons why readers may want to give eBooks a try. They provide more versatility than print and have many advantages that make the reading experience easier and more enjoyable. It doesn’t matter how you choose to read your books. The important thing is that you keep reading!
Questions & Answers
Question: What if the device that you're using the eBook on goes dead?
Answer: If your eReader's battery dies, simply charge the device. If it becomes completely non-functional, you can replace the device and simply re-download your digital content onto the new device.
Question: Who invented eBooks?
Answer: Michael Hart, who also founded Project Gutenberg, created the first eBook in 1971 while he was a student at the University of Illinois. He typed the entire text of the Declaration of Independence onto a computer and made it available for others to download via ARPAnet. Six people downloaded his eBook version of the Declaration of Independence.
The first automated reader, which was the precursor to the modern eReader, was invented by a school teacher named Angela Ruiz Robles in 1949 after she noticed her students lugging heavy textbooks back and forth each day. She came up with the idea of an automated reader that would be easier for children to carry to school than multiple heavy textbooks. This invention featured a smaller amount of text on spools, which were operated by compressed air. While this invention wasn't electronic, it is considered the precursor to the modern electronic book.
Question: Do eBooks hurt your eyes if you read in the dark?
Answer: Conventional wisdom says that reading in dim light can hurt your eyes, whether its a print book or a digital device. The good news is that there is little scientific evidence to support the claim that reading in low light is harmful. Our eyes are designed to work well in various light levels. You may experience eye strain or a headache as your eyes adjust to different light levels, but there is very little risk of long-term damage.
Many electronic devices with screens, including eBooks, can cause eyestrain. This is because of glare on the screen, and the constantly changing light levels as the images on the screen change. The way most screens work, you are forced to look directly at a glare-causing light source, which can strain your eyes.
Some eReaders, such as Kindles, use a special technology called "e-ink" which reduces eye strain and glare. These screens are easier for your eyes to adjust to, and are less likely to cause headaches or eye strain. Reading on e-ink eReaders is the same as reading a regular print book.
I use an Amazon Fire tablet, which uses the same kind of screen technology as other tablets (not the e-ink screens). I haven't noticed any ill effects from reading on my Fire for long periods. I find it to be more comfortable than reading print books, especially in low-light conditions, since I don't need to use an external light source (such as a lamp or book light).
Question: How much does an eBook cost?
Answer: The cost of each individual eBook is set by the publisher or independent author. Some eBooks may be available for free, while others may cost the same as the print edition of the same book.
Question: Can you give some more points on whether eReaders are more portable than textbooks?
Answer: Well, eBooks are definitely more portable than print textbooks, especially hardbound textbooks. eReaders, such as Kindle are much lighter than even one textbook, so it is easier to carry home and back to class. You can fit many eBooks on one device, so if you could get all of your textbooks for the semester in the digital format, you wouldn't have to carry books back and forth to your classes. You would only have to carry the device.
You don't even need a dedicated eReader device to use eBooks. Smart phones and tablets have eReader apps available. You can load all of your books to the phone that you already carry with you anyway. This allows you to keep your entire library in your pocket, so your textbooks will be available to you wherever you are. This would allow you to study anytime you have a few minutes free, such as waiting in line at a coffee shop.
Question: How much do e-readers cost?
Answer: The price can vary considerably depending on what brand and model you choose. My Amazon Fire tablet was about $100 when I bought it, but there are cheaper and more expensive options out there, depending on what features you want.
Question: Does an eReader take a long time to charge?
Answer: The charge time depends on what eReader you have and what charger you are using. They usually take a few hours to fully charge, similar to a smart phone.
Question: Is the eReader waterproof?
Answer: Most eReaders are not waterproof, but there are waterproof cases and pouches you can use with your eReader. Amazon’s newest version of their Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof, so you can take it to the beach or in a bath without needing a waterproof case.
Question: How expensive is an e-reader?
Answer: The cost of an e-reader device depends on which model you choose. The prices for different models can vary drastically. Amazon offers Kindle e-readers priced between $50 and $250. Other companies also offer e-readers at a wide variety of price points. The screen size and features included in each device will affect the cost. As with other types of electronic devices, you may be able to get older versions of an e-reader that has a newer version available at a significant discount, as retailers try to clear out older inventory.
Question: How much does it cost to publish an eBook?
Answer: You can publish an eBook for free using services such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber
Tigmanshu Mehta on August 10, 2020:
Firstly I would like to answer the question 'Are paper books better than e book' , No.
What is e book it is an electronic version of paper books. We are living in 21st century wher we had developed so much and we are also developing day by day ,e book is a symbol of that . In current situation in which the whole system of the world has been changed due to Covid 19. There are concepts of work from home,study online and many more. In this situation the students who are at their peek postion and can not spoil their future due to this corona virus so their studies are going on through online teaching in this period they could not go out to buy books or they are not in the position to buy books for studies so they are now studying with e books , pdf of books . By bringing the concepts of e books not only the students will get benefit but also the burden on the trees will also be decreased very much because if suppose before the concept of e books hundreed trees are cut down to make books for a school then after the concept of ebooks half students are able to buy e books then the ratio of trees which are cut to make paper books will be decreased.
And value for which you pay for buying the books are of no costs in form of e books because their are many apps by Indian government in which books from nursery to Class 12 are free of cost . And these books can be shared also. You do not need to carry an external books for reading during journey, you can read on you mobile phones which you are having usually always with you. And they are light weight also and are convenient to carry from place to place. They can not decay like paper books from time to time. And their is no threat of mouse also that books can be teared by mouse .And the books can be updated from year to year you do not need to buy a new books from time to time.
At last,I conclude that ebooks is the best substitution of paper books.
doooo on August 04, 2020:
1 year ago
wassup on May 07, 2020:
yea i had to use this for school
... on February 13, 2020:
This is so helpful with my school work thanks alot
DDD on January 03, 2020:
Thanks now I can use this for school
aa on December 11, 2019:
??? on December 11, 2019:
I LOVE IT!!!
Someone on December 10, 2019:
I like the paper back books better
Jesus loves you on December 10, 2019:
I think that print book are better. Plus on a electronic you can easily get distracted
Wifi on November 08, 2019:
I think electronics are better in my opinion
person on November 08, 2019:
Hello this helped me
Mehnu_ on June 23, 2019:
Thanks.....it was indeed a LOT helpful!...
Zak on June 17, 2019:
I don’t experience problems with the ereader that I use, and it does not use e-ink. I would also like to note that you can get many ebooks for a low price, but the better books often cost more money, and there are several instances where print copies of good books are cheaper than ebooks.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 01, 2019:
Hi, different things mean many things o many different persons. Some like in either print or ebook.Some like both format. I will not recommend an ebook for teenagers because of dangers online. Thanks.
Jordan on April 01, 2019:
I have a Kindle paperback 2018
Its easier to focus on the text than an original book. Zooming in on the text makes chapters easier for me.
Printed books are fine in their way. I just find Kindle more convenient
Novels like Watership Down in book form was extremely difficult to keep focus because of how small and tight the text was but I could never give it up/away to some library.
I keep it just in case my kindle breaks one day.
Also reading kindle books that dont show the cover saves you in public from embarrassment, if one reads out in parks or public transport. Reading Harry Potter in school got me a tad picked on but now I can read it and no one can give a damn cuz no oen can see it on my Kindle cover.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 22, 2019:
Hey, Jeff, that's good for you at the moment. Read your print books regularly. There are cheap paperbacks always in the market. Then reading will become second nature to you.
But as you grow off age, e-books can be supplementary. That's how far I can advise you.
At your present age, reading online can dangerous and spell a disaster, unless you are properly guided by your parents. Thank you, and wishing you the best in your print reading culture. Have a nice time.
jeff on March 22, 2019:
i just think print is better than electronic and yes i'm only twelve
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 18, 2019:
Whether one like Ebook or print, both contain information for the development of the mind. Thank you.
Miebakagh57 on March 13, 2019:
kabuto yakushi on March 13, 2019:
thank you you are now the otokage of the sound village
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on March 12, 2019:
Hi, there, every person is welcomed onboard. Good day.
jeff on March 12, 2019:
Kyler Wright on February 26, 2019:
Your really really cute. And thanks for the information.
Lourdes on February 14, 2019:
Thanks Jennifer for the info. This will really help me out for my debate project.
S on January 10, 2019:
#6 is so wrong; not all reading apps let you change the fonts and after a while, with the limited font options for those that do, all books start to look identical.
However, I find myself striking a pretty even split between ebooks and printed books, because you're right–as long as you're reading!
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on December 14, 2018:
Some people prefer eBooks, others prefer print books. It doesn't matter which you choose as long as you're reading. :)
James Mitchell on December 13, 2018:
This is marcus's brother, the reset your password link isn't always available, when it is it's always so complicated just to reclaim some pettey little ebooks. when you can just go to the library or to a bookstore to get some REAL books.
victoriais 10 on December 03, 2018:
your pretty but I don't like e-books
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on November 29, 2018:
Then reset your password. Every website and online service has a "forgot your password" link.
marcus mitchell on November 28, 2018:
what if you forget the password?
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on November 16, 2018:
You should be able to recover purchased eBooks from where you purchased them by signing into your account.
marcus mitchell on November 16, 2018:
what if you reset your device and all of it is gone can you recover it ?
Ethan on October 29, 2018:
I think the ebooks are much better than regular books and I think u can find even more reason!
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 12, 2018:
Hello Jennifer, then you agreed that ebooks can be on a similar or parallel level with the print in some cases? Thanks.
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on August 12, 2018:
If you lose the file because you delete it or because the device you have it downloaded to breaks, you can download it from your account again. Library eBooks can be downloaded from Overdrive or Amazon, and are linked to your library account. Purchased books are also linked to your Amazon or other eBook seller’s account. You can download them to devices linked to your account as often as you want.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 12, 2018:
Hello Jennifer, you do know for sure that these digital ebooks are download on a hard disc. What do you say when the disc behave unusually and the laptop breaksdown? Apart fro this, when you bought an ebook, it can be unexpectedly detected. Could the publisher allow another download? Does not this make ebooks and prints on the same level?
Jennifer Wilber (author) from Cleveland, Ohio on August 11, 2018:
If you borrow a digital book and lost the file, you can just redownload it until your loan expires. You can also renew it again if there are no holds, just like with regular library books. I use the library for both print and eBooks, and the process is similar.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 11, 2018:
Hi, Jennifer, thanks for the update. But as you realized, print books will never go out of print or circulation. In spite of the advantage of ebooks, the print format has certain advantages over the electronic format. For example, if you borrowed an ebook for 2 weeks from the library, what would happen if the invitible happen and it is not backed up? There are many others besides. Thank again.