I had always been a firm fan of print books, loved holding either paperback or hard covers in my hands. Loved the feel of the paper in my hands.
Then I started writing and learned about e-books. Got a Kindle for Christmas and started filling it up. Even learned last summer how to download books to my cell phone! Yep, e-reading became the thing for me.
Until I got sick last month. And the two books I hadn’t read by my favorite author I happened to have in print. So I read them. And fell in love with print books all over again. There is just something about holding that book, turning those pages. Being able to quickly thumb back to check on something you just made a connection to, or to check and see how much further to the end of the chapter make reading a print book a more satisfying reading experience to me.
I grant you, E-books are convenient. They give the reader anonymity in case you don’t want others to know what you’re reading. You don’t have to lug around a ton of physical books. And you carry the bookstore with you as long as you have a Wifi connection.
As long as people continue to buy both mediums, the debate over e-book vs print will exist. In an article in The Guardian, author Nick Harkaway points out, “Digital will continue to grow for a while at least, and continue to exist, because it is becoming part of the world we inhabit at a level below our notice, no more remarkable than roads or supermarkets. Ebooks are here to stay because digital is.”
However, he also acknowledges, “Digital books are still painfully ugly and weirdly irritating to interact with. They look like copies of paper, but they can’t be designed or typeset in the same way as paper, and however splendid the cover images may look on a hi-res screen, they’re still images rather than physical things. To my irritation, you still can’t flick through an e-book properly; you can’t riffle the pages, you can’t look at more than one page at once… Better, a lot of the time, to shove a paperback in your pocket.”
And even though it really comes down to reader preference, is there a new trend on the horizon?
An article from the PBS Newshour states that a report came out in January 2014 affirming that Americans read more print books. ” A report…found that 70 percent of Americans read print books last year, but only four percent read exclusively e-books. According to the survey, conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International, the average adult read five books in 2013.” The report also revealed that “half of American adults now own an e-reader or tablet, which is a seven percent increase from 2012.”
The debate of e-book or print is more serious for authors, as we decide whether to publish exclusively in e-format through small presses or self-publishing, or push to get a print contract through an agent and major publishing companies, a difficult feat at best. And though most small presses provide POD print copies, few of these copies are usually ordered because of higher costs and shipping charges.
So, which side of the debate do you come down on? As a reader or as an author, do you prefer e-books or print books?