EBook vs. Print Book: How to Choose the Right Format for You

by Karen Green

One of the very best things about being a book lover is the choice we get to make every time we’re ready to look for a new book to read. What will it be today? Historical romance? Science fiction? A biography or perhaps that thriller everybody has been talking about? It’s a great problem to have, really.

Book format is another great choice readers get to make now, thanks to the development of e-readers and the wide availability of digital ebooks, but it’s a choice that comes with its own set of pros and cons. So how does a reader choose between an ebook and a traditionally bound print book?

Availability is one key piece of the decision-making puzzle, but even if you don’t own an e-reader or a tablet that supports an ebook platform, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Most libraries now not only allow users to borrow e-readers and download ebook files, but many also offer information sessions on how to get started with e-readers and ebooks.

Once you have access to both ebooks and print books, the decision is down to practicality, convenience and personal preference, but there are a few other finer points to consider. In the end, keep in mind that, as with deciding the next title you’re going to read, there is no way to make a wrong choice here. Your story is guaranteed to have a happy ending—a new book!

 

Choose an ebook if:

  • the book you want to read is otherwise out of print.
  • you already have, or have access to, an e-reader or a tablet that supports an ebook platform.
  • you are running out of space on your bookshelves.
  • you read while traveling—an e-reader is less cumbersome, lighter and easier to hold (especially with one hand) than most books.
  • you want to be able to adjust font size, background brightness and other aspects of the “page.”
  • you are on a very tight book-buying budget. (Ebooks are typically a bit less expensive than print books.)
  • the book is particularly long, heavy or otherwise unwieldy, or you have problems holding or turning the pages of a book.
  • you don’t typically share books. (Unless you have a family plan through certain retailers, it is not always possible to share an ebook file without handing over the entire e-reader.)

Choose a print book if:

  • the book is not available digitally.
  • you like to share your physical books with others.
  • looking at your books on the shelf brings you joy.
  • you prefer to feel, turn and bookmark paper pages.
  • it is more comfortable for you to read typography on a white page.
  • reading on a screen fatigues your eyes or causes any other physical discomfort.
  • the book is graphics heavy. (Graphics, like photos, maps or illustrations are not always optimized in digital formats.)
  • you do not have access to an e-reader or tablet that supports digital editions.
  • you can’t live without that new book smell.
  • you are uncomfortable troubleshooting minor technological issues that may come up with files or hardware.

 

Do you prefer to read a print copy of a book, an ebook or a combination of the two? Let us know how you like to read in the comments!

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Comments ( 12 )
  1. carolm
    April 26, 2017 at 5:59 pm
    Reply

    a real book. love to hold it, turn its pages. no batteries required!

    • Sue
      May 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm
      Reply

      Both, I have 3 ways to read digitally, but I will still settle in happily with a book either from my s
      Hoard or from the libarary. It is so good to have a choice.

  2. Tammi Twedt
    April 27, 2017 at 8:01 am
    Reply

    I prefer physical books, going for hardcovers when they are available and I can afford them. Ebooks are my choice only as a last resort or for trying out a new author I’m unsure of.

  3. Candace
    April 27, 2017 at 10:39 am
    Reply

    I’m straight down the middle. I love to fill my shelves with print books and take pics for Bookstagram. I get a quite a few ebooks for reviewing purposes, which is beneficial for staying up late to finish those unputdownable books!

  4. Mikka
    April 27, 2017 at 5:07 pm
    Reply

    I like traditional books best. I am a lover of all books and having them on my shelves to look at gives me a sense of accomplishment. Of course, I have all of my e-books as well on my kindle and nook apps too. I like having the availability of a book no matter the situation. If I am not able to have a physical book with me, I know that I can bring up a book on my phone or tablet at a moments notice, especially if I have a long wait or am somewhere becoming bored in a situation that I don’t necessarily need to be apart of. Then I can zone out of it and read something that will pique my interest for a few minutes before I have to be drawn back into whatever is going on. That is why I love both kinds of books. But if asked, I am a traditionalist ultimately in the end and love a good physical book in my hands that I can enjoy the weight of and turn the actual pages of for sure.

  5. Christine Garbel
    April 27, 2017 at 10:56 pm
    Reply

    Nothing compares to holding a book in your hands. And loving the way the book feels in your hands as well.

  6. Phyllis Murray
    April 28, 2017 at 5:49 pm
    Reply

    I like books in print because I keep them and read again.

  7. Dave Anderson
    May 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm
    Reply

    I am wondering whether I should buy textbooks for school or whether it would be better to buy ebooks instead. Like you mentioned, an ebook would be much less expensive and heavy to carry around which would be convenient. Whereas a textbook might be slightly easier to read but less convenient and harder to find information. In that case, I think that I am going to try out some ebooks but I am also going to need a device to read them on.

  8. Erryn Barratt
    May 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm
    Reply

    I read most books electronically. But when I find a book I love, I buy the actual book.

  9. Cindy
    May 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Reply

    I prefer print books especially paperbacks. With a print book the reading experience is more relaxing and comfortable. I will read on my tablet a book that was only released for ereaders but will always return to my print books.

  10. LynnB
    May 24, 2017 at 8:20 pm
    Reply

    eBook … my aging eyes like the ability to change or enlarge the font!   I still love print for my keeper shelf though!

  11. Becky Tatar
    May 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm
    Reply

    Print for me. Looking at the screen too long is just to difficult. Also, I want to see the whole page. Depending on the size of the reader/tablet, that’s not always possible.

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