Books

Physical Books vs e-Books

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As a reader, I do prefer physical books but I know that there are many advantages to reading e-books instead. In this post, I wanted to delve into my feelings about physical books and e-books because I have opinions about both formats. I don’t think that either one is ‘better’ than the other but I do have a preference.

I don’t listen to audiobooks, ever, so I’m leaving them out of this post because I just don’t have enough to say about them. I often find myself disassociating when I’m listening to them and then I snap out of it and have no idea what’s going on in the story. I’m not even sure why because I love podcasts and they’re essentially the same, right? The brain works in mysterious ways. I’m off-topic already and this post hasn’t even started properly. Let’s get back on track…

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Physical books, both hardbacks and paperbacks, will always be my first choice when it comes to reading. I love seeing them on my shelves and just looking at them. I love the weight of them in my hands as I read. A physical book, for me, provides a connection between myself and the words on the page. I can feel the paper that they’re printed on and that’s a really important part of reading for me.

I do find that I can remember the story better if I read a physical book. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because I read slower when using a physical copy. I have a tendency to skim when I’m reading an e-book which, let’s be honest, isn’t great. I usually have to read chapters a couple of times to know what’s going on but I really don’t have that problem with physical copies. I get so immersed when I read physical that I look up from the page and I don’t know where I am or what I’m going. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my stop on the train once or twice thanks to a good book.

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I also collect old books. I have a few books from the mid-nineteenth century which I love more than life itself and I have a collection of Alfred, Lord Tennyson books from 1884 which are the best things that I have ever bought. I love knowing that they have a history to them which I’ll probably never learn. They’ve withstood the centuries and changes in taste, technology, and society in general. I really love working with old copies of books too. Special Collections at my university, which holds first editions of Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene and other fantastic books from the medieval and early modern eras, is one of my favourite places in the world. I just love being surrounded by old books, knowing that so many people have read them before me. It’s really cool to find marginalia too. I will shut up about old books now. I should have just written an entire post about my love for old books. (Note to self: do this one day).

I must admit, however, that physical books can be an absolute pain in the arse. Especially hardbacks. Firstly, they take up so much space. I just don’t have any space left. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Secondly, it’s really difficult to travel with them. I often read on my daily commute and they can just be so awkward to handle on full trains. You cannot read hardback books on public transport. It’s just not possible. Please stop. Please. I’m begging you.

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Considering everything I’ve just said about physical books, it may come as a surprise to know that I do use e-books on a regular basis too. I don’t have an e-reader, like a Kindle or whatever, but I read PDF and ePub versions of books on my phone and computer. I don’t find e-books as immersive as physical books but they definitely have their uses in my life.

I mainly use e-books in my PhD research. If I can find an electronic version of a book I need to read for my research then I will choose that over a physical copy from the library. There are four main reasons for this:

  1. I can keep the book forever once I’ve downloaded it rather than returning it to the library.
  2. I can search the document for keywords which helps me save time.
  3. I can highlight the sections that are useful to me and make notes in the margins. You’re not meant to do that in a library book.
  4. I can copy and paste the quotes that I need over from the electronic copy rather than writing it out myself.

As you can probably tell, I am a very lazy researcher but I think reading an electronic copy of a book puts me in a certain frame of mind. I become much more focused and critical because, for some reason, my brain sort of associates electronic copies with university work and research. If I had to use physical books for my research then I’d just never read them.

e-Books serve a very specific purpose in my life but I would never change that. I love using e-books in my research because they’re cheaper for the university, they’re easier to use, and I can still print sections of them out if I need to (which sort of defeats the purpose of an e-book but oh well).

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Both physical and electronic copies of books are wonderful because you’re still reading a book either way and isn’t that the main goal here? I’m sure that everyone has a preference for one or the other (or even audiobooks!) but I really don’t think that one is better than the other. They’re equally amazing and I’m just glad that books exist.

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Do you have a strong preference for physical, electronic, or audio copies of books? Which do you prefer and why? Or do you just like books in every form? Let me know!

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19 thoughts on “Physical Books vs e-Books

  1. I used to only love physical books for I love sticking my nose in it and smell it. But it was really inconvenient when am travelling to carry 5-10 books 🤣 so I got myself a kindle and fell in love with it, only recently I have started listening to audio which am loving when am in no mood to read with my eyes…. so for me I love books in all forms

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Books are so inconvenient to travel! But I still try to take 10 with me whenever I’m going on vacation.

      I can’t concentrate with audiobooks but I really wish I could. I just zone out and then suddenly it’s four hours later and I have no idea what’s happening in the book 😂

      Like

      1. yes in the beginning i found it hard but now i enjoy them a lot.. the moment i have my headphones on the moment the rest of the world disappears and am alone in my own world ^^

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to prefer physical books more but the more I read ebooks I find that I do love this format. I found that a read a lot faster for whatever reason. You can also carry an entire library in the palm of your hand.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Of course nothing will surpass physical formats, but I personally adore my Kindle and find reading in electronic format super comfortable, it’s easy to move with and it’s also much more accessible especially when you live in a place where it’s not cheap to buy books 😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, this is a tough and one I suspect will divide the masses. I was very anti e-readers until just over a year ago and now I wouldn’t trade my Kindle for anything. People switch to ebooks for different reasons but for me it was out of convenience and the fact that I could carry hundreds of books in the palm of my hand. It took me a while to convince myself that it was the words I wanted, their package shouldn’t bother me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people hate said that they use e-readers for convenience and it makes complete sense! That’s one of the reasons I use e-books for my research but I’ll always love physical books too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love both, and I think it’s interesting how the debate once was will ebooks diminish the need for physical books to actually how both can be incredibly helpful. I have to have large print books, and most books aren’t printed large print, so being able to use ebooks is great! But books I really love I like to collect a physical copy of for my bookshelves. Interesting to read your thoughts 🙂

    Emily x | emilyclairewrites.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting!

      I’m so glad that the conversation has moved away from the idea that e-books will diminish the need for physical books because both are needed and wanted. They both have pros and cons with e-books being the more practical and convenient choice of the two. It all comes down to personal choice 🙂

      Like

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