eBooks vs. Physical Books: A Complicated War

April 13, 2014 Opinion Piece 10

There are two types of people in the world: those who read eBooks, and those who read physical books.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that black-and-white (ah, if only). But this, I believe, is an ongoing battle between readers: whether eBooks are really overtaking the bookish world, or whether physical books are here to stay. Some swear by their Kindles and Nooks. Others would die before even thinking about picking one up. And then, of course, there’s the varying shades of people who kinda-sorta lean one way or the other, but really don’t mind either one.

It’s a complicated war. :P

Personally, I’ll shamelessly say that I love, love, love eBooks. Mostly, I love the durability of them – how I can slip my tablet into my bag, open the Kindle app, and there’s hundreds of books (plus, tens of thousands more at the click of a button!). eBooks are basically my number one travel companions – they take up way less space than physical books, so it’s just easier to lug them on planes and such. 

BUT! Although I wouldn’t part with my Kindle library for the world, I must admit that my first love has always been, and likely will always be, physical books. One time, about a year ago, I decided to go cold turkey on the physical books and solely buy and read eBooks. I sold and gave away all my physical books to friends and teachers – and a week later, I couldn’t stand it anymore and bought them all back.

So I’ve learned my lesson – eBooks are wonderful, but physical books hold a special place in my heart. I pretty much love everything about them: the way they look on my bookshelves. The satisfying feeling of turning the page (and paper cuts be damned!). The way they smell – yeah, I’m one of those weird people in bookstores who inhale the scent of books. So sue me. ;) With physical books, there’s a certain charm that I’ll never find in any eReader. If eBooks represent durability and convenience, then physical books represent timelessness, a sense of eternity locked within paper pages. I’m the kind of person who loves nothing more than curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a book on a rainy day – but if that book was replaced with my tablet, it would feel all wrong. 

Another thing: physical books bear the marks of love. When I first buy a book, it’s a clean slate. But when I read and re-read, like I do with my absolute favourites, I can actually see where I spilled coffee on the edge of the page and had to make a frantic paper towel run in order to save it from total demise. I can see the dog-eared page with my absolute favourite quote. I can see where my puppy nibbled on the corner a little bit when I thought he was asleep (yeah, that’s a true story – he can be sly when he wants to be!). Every read of a physical book is like a walk down memory lane, and every copy is just slightly different. With eBooks, they’re all the same. There’s no way to distinguish, to point to one copy and say: “that’s my book”.

eBooks are great, and I’ll never begrudge those who prefer them over physical books. But I suppose it’s the personal touch that comes with physical books that make them my favourite by far – and besides, I’ve always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. ;)

eBooks or physical books? What’s your preferred reading style?


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15 years old. Writer. Musician. Feminist. Cheesecake connoisseur. Mistress of the mixtape. Hopeless romantic. Compulsive reader. Avid fangirl. I enjoy strong coffee, ugly cats, and the taste of words. Find me on Twitter or at Six Impossible Things, my personal blog.

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10 Responses to “eBooks vs. Physical Books: A Complicated War”

  1. Kim

    Physical books all the way. I love ebooks for the reasons you stated, but if I buy an ebook and LOVE it then I have to buy the physical book so I can have that one as well.

  2. lexacain

    I’ve weaned myself off physical books (though I won’t sell the ones I own). Ebooks are cheaper. They take up no space. They don’t yellow or cost anything to ship. Yes, I’m fully converted to the “dark side.” lol
    lexacain recently posted…Hauntings: LaLaurie HouseMy Profile

  3. Tina

    I just ordered a Kindle paperwhite which I’m so excited to get and the main reason is because I couldn’t stand reading eARCs on my phone anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving physical books, they bring the love of reading and a whole part of that experience is in a physical copy. But ebooks have given us convenience that physical books could never give us so I guess both have their benefits but I’m still gonna love reading a physical book more than reading an ebook :P
    Tina recently posted…Handling Ceramic Tile FlooringMy Profile

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