E-Books VS Print: Which do you Prefer?

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?


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25 Responses to E-Books VS Print: Which do you Prefer?

  1. sam1slim1 says:

    I read both. I prefer both. E-books as re more convenient and I can have thousands of books that will not take up a lot of space. That being said, I still love print copies. I love to actually be able to hold an actual book. Also, “you can’t riffle the pages, you can’t look at more than one page at once.” That quote says it all.


  2. I use my kindle primarily for those books I can’t get in print. I am a bit old fashioned I guess, but I prefer print books. And I have bought hardback books in the last few months too. Primarily I buy paperbacks. Yes, there are books in every room in my house, but I feel like I am surrounded by old friends. If the time comes when there are only e books and no more print books i guess I will read e books exclusively, but until then I will still love my print books!


  3. PaperbackDiva says:

    I’ll no doubt continue using both, depending on the situation. But I did notice the other day that I found the smell of a paperback distasteful. It was an oldie, and a favorite, I was rereading. I actually considered buying an ebook copy to read! Also I like the convenience of finding words or pages with bookmarks or highlights in an ebook. I’ve found the ‘x-ray’ feature in some of them very convenient too. Anyone else like the x-ray?

    One thing I wish ebooks had was the back cover copy, that gives you a brief blurb about the book. Sometimes I put a book down a little while and when I come back, I need a reminder as to what it’s about. In the case of an ebook, you have to look it up on line to find that summary.


  4. Lola Karns says:

    I’ve tried reading non fiction and books with a large cast of characters in e-format, but getting to the bookmarks is not nearly as convenient as using a post it flag to keep track of endnotes, maps, and a list of who is who. That said, I love the portability of my ereaders and that I can try out new authors for a relatively low price. I buy books I used to get from the library because its so convenient (and easy) to pick up a new romance or cozy for $2.99 or less.


  5. I have to say I’d probably waiver back and forth like your example just depending on what was convenient. Plain and simple I love books in any form. Ebooks are nice because they’ve added an access never had before and I get to try out authors I might never have stumbled upon, but print, well it is classic and I’ll always love it.


  6. Carrie-Anne says:

    I prefer physical books, but e-books really come in handy. You might not be able to arrange them on shelves or flip through them easily, but they’re so much easier to take on the road. Last summer, I was able to read while my nursery campers were taking their hour-long nap, and it was so much easier to have the Kindle instead of a large book, in case I needed to quickly attend to a child. I was also able to get away with reading a romance at an Orthodox day camp!


  7. appyt0914 says:

    I have always loved reading and at age 60 I obviously have read a lot of print books.. I agree with the feel of a real book, I miss that because I use my kindle exclusively for my novel reading. The pluses for me are as follows. I can read in bed(whoop), I can increase the font size to suit my eyes, I have no “space taken up” on a shelf or in a closet to hold my books.. They are all at my fingertips. Of course no one knows what I am reading. 😉 The price factor is also a good reason. Unfortunately I have probably bought and continue to buy(I include free books in that count) way too many books. I am a hoarder. sigh… Honestly, Amazon and my kindle have reopened my reading pastime 100% since I practically had stopped reading books due to sight issues. Printed is just too hard on my eyes.. So, I can grab a printed book and riffle the pages for nostalgia while consuming great reads on my kindle. 🙂


  8. gemmabrocato says:

    I never, ever thought I’d say this, but I love my Kindle. I resisted getting one for a long time, but I’ve found it oh, so convenient when traveling. My luggage weighs a lot less since I don’t have to pack 5-6 books to keep me entertained at the beach. I have shelves and shelves of books that I gaze at longingly, thinking, I need to turn pages. Unfortunately, the Kindle stares at me from the bedside table, all sexy and sleek, and silent (Mr. Gemma likes that – he used to complain the the turning of pages kept his awake). I’m hooked.


  9. I read both. I resisted getting a Kindle until my husband bought me one for Mothers Day a few years ago. He said I have too many books cluttering up the place. I hardly ever get rid of books. There are one or two authors I only have in print. Of course, some are only available in eBook. But mostly it depends. If I see a book by an author I like at the store (although fewer and fewer choices are available on the racks) I’ll pick it up with my other shopping. I like being able to download a book right away or have it appear magically on my Kindle the night before its release.

    We bought my mom a Kindle for Mothers Day this year, so she could read my book. And what do you know? It came out in POD just a few days later. I had to order one just so I could hold it in my hands and I ordered one for an auction basket I gave away, But I definitely think my print sales are mostly from friends and family. I still owe an autograph to my great aunt.


  10. melissakeir says:

    I like both. I have some authors that are my paperback or hard cover authors. I keep their books and re-read them over and over again. Then there are the ebooks I buy because they are easy to carry around in my purse. The kindle goes everywhere! I think that there will always be a place for both.


  11. Brenna Lyons says:

    As an author, I sell a LOT more in ebook than in print. Of course, I have POD print.

    It’s not as easy as just get an agent and sign with NY conglomerate, when you aren’t writing what conglomerate feels comfortable marketing. I have a running joke with an agent friend of mine that’s been going on for about 6 years now. Conglomerate STILL isn’t comfortable with what I write. They might never be, but in the meantime, I’m making money in indie presses. Other down sides to playing conglomerate’s game, rather than going with an indie press, are the rigid word caps and their expectations for genres, things that are much more fluid with ebooks and POD books. Not to mention the much quicker turn-around time in indie press.

    I still submit to conglomerate once in a while, but when I get through several layers of submission and then get rejection letters telling me things like how great the book is, but you just CAN’T do that (uh….yeah, I can, just not with you) or the editors love it but the marketing guys don’t think we can market it effectively… I’d rather just keep making money, though (when possible) I do enjoy being able to offer my readers both ebook and print.

    As a reader, I read about 50/50 print and ebook these days. Some authors, I pretty much always buy in print, mainly because my daughters read the books too. I’d rather buy them in print and have any of us grab one when we want to than be stuck lending them my Nook or my husband’s Kindle, when someone else in the house wants to read a book. Moreover, a lot of conglomerate titles use DRM, and I simply don’t like the problems that causes. I’d rather buy in print, when the ebook is so hobbled I have to worry about losing it if I change tech. So…most of my ebook reads are from indie presses, and most of my print reads are from conglomerate. Just the way it works for me. I do occasionally purchase a print from indie press, specifically to get it signed by the author or something similar.


  12. Daryl Devore says:

    We have a Kindle Fire. I play games on it – Mahjong, Scrabble etc – my husband reads on it. I spend a lot of time reading on my laptop – writing, critiquing, beta read – so that when I want to read – I tend to get a paper book – unless – had to be an “unless” I’m on vacation. Gotta love the convenience of a Kindle and hundreds of books in one little thing to pack.


  13. To me it comes down to price. Ebooks are so much more convenient. But if I had a choice between a free ebook or a physical book, I’d take the physical one. Please don’t be jealous Kindle – I still love you and all your hundreds of ebooks I have loaded 🙂


  14. Sheri Fredricks says:

    I’ve been reading on my Kindle more these days because I only find time to read at night…in bed.


  15. E. Ayers says:

    I think there’s a place for both, but I’m sure that the vast majority of fiction books in print will eventually go by the wayside as we switch to ebooks. The last time we had a good hurricane whip through here, it left me without power for over 12 days. Fortunately I had a box of unread paper books to keep me occupied.

    When people say they love the feel of a paper book in their hands, I want to giggle. Many avid readers grew up in a time when having a book to read was special and if it was yours to keep… Yes, goose bumps! We still get that thrill with any book.

    But the younger generation is growing up with ereaders. They will either find paper books to be exciting or clumsy things. And for all the reasons everyone is stating about cost, etc, it’s allowing us to feed the need to read without breaking the budget. As people read more electronically, the cost for paper will rise until it becomes something only for the wealthy. There will be a status symbol attached to paper books. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see paperbacks vanish leaving us with hardbound.

    It used to be we read hardbound books, then paperback sent them into the background. The cost for both rose. When was the last time you bought a hardbound book? Have you looked at the prices for a hardbound? It used to be that a book came out in hardbound and after a six months or a year, it went to paperback. If you weren’t in hardbound, you were nothing as an author.

    The industry is changing and we as readers are changing it. I bought 3 books yesterday – all ebooks, total cost $2.97 There was a time we could buy a paperback for a dollar. Don’t believe me? Go look on those shelves! The last paperback book I bought was for a grandchild and it was over $12. I’ll stick with ebooks. I get a lot more for my money and if another hurricane comes through here, I’ll be reading on my Kindle and finding a place to recharge it.


  16. danijace says:

    The cover of a physical book reminds me what I’m reading. I hate that the old Kindle I have just list titles no thumbnail pic. 😦 Totally agree with looking back at previous passages or checking to see how much further to next chapter. The pluses: easy to carry, large print, and usually a cheaper price.


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I do love the plusses of e-books that you mention, Dani. But I also love the physical feel of a paperback in my hand. I have one daughter who loves her e-reader and one who will only buy print. It’s so much a personal preference. So the debate goes on. 🙂


  17. Lyn Brittan says:

    Both, LOL! I prefer ebooks for fiction and print for paperback. 🙂


  18. Aleah Barley says:

    I love both ebooks and real books. For the first time one of my novels–Tempting the Ringmaster–is going to be out in paperback and I’m ecstatic. The print cover is soooo pretty. Check it out. So pretty. http://bit.ly/TemptingTheRingmaster


  19. I fought getting an e-reader, until, finally, my husband and son bought me one for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and I was hooked. I don’t like not being able to turn back easily or read the end of the book, but the newest Kindle does have that capability. On the other hand, I live in the tropics and it’s hard to keep books in good condition, also I’m out of space for bookshelves, and we are, hopefully, moving onto a boat soon. Which means even less space. I do love that I can increase the font and take tons of books with me wherever I go. Not to mention getting them immediately. We no longer have either a bookstore of a library on the island. There are some books I have to have in print, but mostly I buy ebooks.

    That said, I really, really want a print contract, because the majority of my readers read in print, and I want to see my books on the shelves, or at least have someone take a picture and send it to me. Tweeted and shared.


    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I know what you mean about a print contract. It’s kind of the Holy Grail of the author still. I wonder if e-books will ever reach the “status” we accord print books?


  20. jdh2690 says:

    I gotta say that I love the smell and feel of print books. Always have, always will. But nowadays, because of budget concerns, and because I read so much as my staycation entertainment, I prefer e-books because they are so much cheaper. So if I had no concerns about money, it would be print…but since that’s not the case these days, I NEED to have e-books instead. jdh2690@gmail.com


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