The Book vs. The E-Reader

book     ereader





I have a few friends (there should be no surprised faces out there) that love novels as much as I do. Two of my friends clash quite often due to the centuries old (more like few years old) debate: Which is better, the book or the e-reader? Recently they got into a particularly heated argument that I must share with all of you. But rather than explain it I would like to show you what happened (that way it will be more entertaining).

To protect the identities (and pride) of my friends we shall rename them Lois and Lane (I just finished seeing Man of Steel).

[Lois and I are hanging out in her living room. She is reading a book while I am on the computer…blogging]

[Lane comes in with her (DUN, DUN, DUN) e-reader]

Lane: “Hey guys! What are you reading Lois?”

Lois: World War Z.” (That’s right, my friends are zombie geeks).

Lane: “Oh, I just finished reading that, it was sooooooo good! What part are you on?”

Lois: [Replies without taking eyes off page] “I just started.”

Lane: [With a glint in her eyes] “How much was it?” (Lane is always one to start trouble).

Lois: “I got it at Barnes and Noble for $11.41.”

Lane: “You should have told me you wanted to read that, I would have let you read it on my e-reader; where I bought World War Z for only $9.99.”

Lois: “Hmmmm.”

Lane: “You should always ask me before buying a book, you know I would let you borrow my e-reader any time.”

Lois: “I don’t want to read on your e-reader.”

Lane: “Why not?”

Lois: [For the first time she looks up from her book] BECAUSE E-READERS ARE KILLING THE MAGIC OF BOOKS!!! (Lois is always one to be over-dramatic).

Me: “Uh oh.”

Lane: [Sarcastic tone] “Because e-readers are killing the magic of books? Great reason.”

Lois: “You know exactly what I’m talking about! Books hold a certain kind of magic that a touch screen never will.”

Lane: “That’s fine, all I was saying was that you could save yourself $12 next time.”

Lois: “And I’m saying that actual books are worth the $12. Besides, stop making this an economical thing, you had to have spent $200 maybe $170 at the least on that thing!”

Lane: “But it’s so worth the price. In your hand you hold one book, in my hands I hold 600 books. It’s like if you saw a purse at target for $150 that could hold 600 books at once and only feel like you’re holding one. You would buy that purse.”

Lois: “I still think the touch screen takes away from the story.”

Lane: “That’s fine Lois, I’m not asking you to like my e-reader. I just want you to leave me alone about it.”

Lois: “I guess I wouldn’t be so offended by it if wasn’t killing book stores. More and more people are downloading books on those things instead of going to an actual book store. It makes me sad.”

Lane: “I get that I do; but at the same time the e-reader is better for the world or at least the environment because we are using less paper and therefore killing less trees.”

Lois: “But kids should know what a book store visit feels like; the excitement that builds up waiting to go. Walking around looking at all the book spines and feeling the pages between your fingers. Now kids get instant gratification which is NOT good for them.”

Lane: “Alright, fine. But you have to admit this, the e-reader has made reading more popular than it’s ever been. So many more people are reading because it’s more easily accessible.”

Lois: [Turns to me] “Lindsey!”

Me: “I’m blogging.” (About you).

Lane: [Smiles a little triumphantly] “Lets just drop it Lois, lets watch a movie.”

Me: “Harry Potter marathon!!!”

Lois: “I thought you were busy blogging?”

Me: “I’m never too busy for Harry Potter woman!”

[Four Harry Potter movies later]

Me: [Stands up and stretches] “Alright, I better take off. Didn’t you already read that Lane?”

Lane: [Sitting with her nose in Lois’s World War Z book] “Yeah…but, it’s a really good book and…I guess Lois was kind of right, it does feel different…”

Me: “Lane admitting she was wrong?!”

Lane: “Not wrong, admitting that Lois was right.”

Me: “Mhmmmm, because those two things are sooooo different. Alrighty, bye Lois, thanks for having me ove- Lois? What are you doing?”

Lois: [Sitting entranced with Lane’s e-reader] “There are so many books…I just…it’s difficult to comprehend. I can highlight and bookmark and so many things…”

Me: [Looks at the two of them] “Okayyyyy, well I got to go.” (Write a blog post)!

Okay so the ending didn’t conclude as happily as the one above but I wanted it too. There are pros and cons to each side of this debate and as one that loves to read, I like both options. I own only books right now but I am saving up for an e-reader. I would love to just carry it around and have hundreds of books at my fingertips, but does that mean I would forget that feeling of cozying up in bed with an actual book? Heck no. I think if people are reading, we should be happy. Trust me, I’m not letting my local Barnes and Noble go out of business any time soon!

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you prefer one or the other? Comment below and happy reading!!!

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33 thoughts on “The Book vs. The E-Reader

  1. I have this internal debate with myself every day. I love my Nook, it’s super handy, especially for travelling but I love the feel and smell of a book in my hand. Honestly it just depends on the book. If its a super long book (400 pages or above) chances are I do not want to read it on my Nook because its just too much. I read faster on an actual book.

  2. I loved your made-up story 🙂
    And I have a Kindle but now I’m back to picking up books from the library so I use it mostly for long internet articles and small pdfs. I read a lot on it, though and will certainly get back to doing so.

  3. The ultimate battles in our home are over things my wife argues I should try. I love my library… the one perfectly aligned on book shelves in my study. She insisted I would more so love a device that was totable in hand, with hundreds of books at my beckoning at all times. She was right. With Kindle Cloud, even if my device crashes, all of my books are stored in the twilight zone, ready to restore to any device. Amazing. Still, I am pretty protective of my office library. It has pretty much been resigned instructive and reference material… long live Kindle!

  4. I am very torn by the e-reader vs. book debate. On one hand, I love the lighting and adjustable font size (really great for those of us who otherwise need reading glasses) of the e-readers. On the other hand, holding a book and turning the pages is almost a deeper experience, you touch the book, physically turn the pages, smell the book, feel the weight which is relative to the size in your hand. In other words, an actual book makes reading a sensory experience.

    The e-readers offer you some very inexpensive reading choices but many of them are not of good quality (By this I mean books that almost seem unedited).

    The big argument for physical books is the “big brother/1984” type argument, In other words, once you own a physical book, you have the physical evidence of the author’s original words. Electronic files can be altered, edited, reworded at any time.

    My personal argument for physical books is the whole “bookstore” experience. I love going and just searching through the shelves, finding books I didn’t know existed.

    • Great points! I totally understand about the book store experience. Walking through the store, surrounded by thousands of stories just waiting to be read; its a feeling unmatched.

      I really liked your thoughts, I can tell your passionate about this subject!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. Hahaha I liked the ending you wrote(: I personally am a book fan. I have the Kindle but I’ve only used it once (I’m thinking that I either need to make more of an effort to use it or I have to give it away). Personally, I find that nothing replaces holding a book in your hands and physically turning the pages while the old book smell fills the air. That said I finished the second book of the Hunger Games series at 8:00 at night and desperately needed the third one while on vacation nowhere near a book store, but since I had also brought the e-reader with me, I was able to order it instantly online. So the convenience is a plus, but the book reading experience isn’t as great.

  6. I got a Kindle Paperwhite 3G for graduation and we are madly in love, haha. The convenience is spectacular. I’m also a huge fan of Kindle samples. Because I have the 3G, anywhere I want to and as soon as I hear about it, I can download a sample or buy an entire book. It’s a lot harder to forget about a book you’re interested in if the sample is just sitting on a shelf (or in a “collection” folder) waiting for your follow through. At the same time, it also makes me appreciate physical books more. When Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm came out, I was quite upset when I found out none of the bookstores in my area were going to have it (about a day or two before release). Combine that with a special pre-order promotion they were having, and I decided I would just pre-order the Kindle edition. But, I already had the beautiful hardback of the first book in the series, so the next time I went to a larger city with a bigger book store I picked up the hardback too. Some books and bindings are worth the physical purchase, others not so much. I’m young and poor after all! haha (plus there is only so much room in the types of housing I can afford now)

  7. I prefer my e-reader. It is easier for me. I can hold all my books. I can immediately find ‘that one part’ in a book that I loved. When I am reading in bed, I don’t bother anyone with having a lamp on. And, when I pass out trying to read ‘just one more chapter’ I don’t lose my spot. Lol

  8. I have this argument all the time, but for me these things about the e-reader always win: 1) reading in bed is actually way more comfortable with an e-reader; 2) being able to look up words and search for things makes me a better reader; and 3) since when is the feel of a book more important to the experience than the content of the book? And 4, why is making books more technologically advanced such a bad thing?? I do miss used bookstores, though, I try to buy a few books when I pass by one, just to support them. The other thing I miss is that my shelves don’t change (although I do appreciate having less clutter).

  9. I have to agree with “Lois” – there is an unexplained magical feeling about holding a book in your hand. I have read a few really good books on my tablet, but it’s just not the same.

  10. For me I go through phases. If I’m traveling and/or spending very little time at home, I’m on the e-reader for sure (I used to have a kindle, and then it did something weird and was retired, but I currently use the kindle app on my phone, which I actually like better). The other advantage of that is that when my parents are in fantasy-related moods, they tend to buy the kindle versions of the books that I like to read, and then it comes out of their budget instead of out of my own (which is awesome!). Also can’t complain about being able to control the font size … Makes reading late and tired a whole lot easier on the eyes … I also don’t need to move heavy boxes of e-books in quite the same way as the physical books.

    But if I’m spending a lot of time around my apartment, I generally prefer the actual book (currently, anyway—this was not true a year ago, when I was still in college). Books smell good, and that’s something the e-reader just doesn’t imitate.

    I was having a conversation similar to this with my mom when we went to my local library so I could finally get that library card I’ve been meaning to get. The topic of getting published came up (again) and I commented that I’d still like to go down the traditional publishing route if I can manage it. She was surprised, and commented that it’s not worth it because everyone only buys ebooks anymore, and there’s no point in spending time and resources on traditional books anymore if I want to be able to sell my books. I’d never approached this debate from the perspective of a publisher before, and (as a stats and econ geek) I’d love to get my hands on some of the market data and do some supply/demand management on the industry. That would just make my day …

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  12. For me, I’m definitely on the side of old fashion books, because there is indeed something magical about holding a book and flipping through its pages (I was just telling my sister this on Friday and she totally agrees with me, even though she’s not really into reading). I’ve never had or used an e-reader, a Nook, or a Kindle, and I don’t intend to (artificial light hurts my eyes after awhile).

    By the way, I’m currently reading World War Z, which I purchased at my local Sam’s Club store for the low price of $6.99!!

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  14. Loved your post. I for one love holding an actual book in my hand, as opposed to yet another form of technology that does the work of turning the pages for me. I love the smell of the pages and just the general overall feeling of a book. I’m sure one day the e-reader will take over completely and there will be no books available, but until that day comes, I will enjoy all the books I can!

    • It just can’t beat that feeling of opening a book and acutally flipping through the pages. The book becomes your friend and you just don’t get that with a digital screen. But I do see the convienance of having one and am saving up money for one so that it will be easier to read on the go. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  15. Nothing will replace the good old-fashioned book! To quote the great Mo Willems: “A book, being a physical object, engenders a certain respect that zipping electrons cannot. Because you cannot turn a book off, because you have to hold it in your hands, because a book sits there, waiting for you, whether you think you want it or not, because of all these things, a book is a friend. It’s not just the content, but the physical being of a book that is there for you always and unconditionally.” Plus, it requires no batteries! Thank you for liking my blog.

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