Recently I needed to read a book for a work assignment. I checked out an e-reader device - Kindle from my library that has the book downloaded on it.
I would prefer the print book, but it was not available yet. With an e-book, you can purchase it online with a credit card and it is available on your Kindle in a few minutes. But with a print book, it takes a few days to arrive.
Half way through the e-book, I abandoned it and changed to the print book that finally arrived. I had to reread the print book from the beginning.
When I read, I love to flip back and forth between the table of contents and the pages, to go back and review what I read before, to make notes. I am a visual person. I find it very difficult to do that with the e-book. I easily feel lost, not knowing where I am in the book. The e-book tells me the percentage of the contents I have read, but that is not as helpful as flipping through the pages, see the actual page numbers, to see where I am according to the table of contents.
E-books are not for me, but I know there are people who love e-books. Both formats have advantages and disadvantages. And people love each format for different reasons.
Print book advantages:
- People love the feeling of actually holding the book in their hands and turning the pages.
- People love reading at night in bed. It’s more comfortable to cuddle up with a book. It’s just not the same feeling to cuddle up with an e-reader. There’s nothing like curling up with a good book.
- You can touch and flip between the pages and see more at once.
- Quality hardcover books are still the easiest on the eyes.
- Book cover/book jacket has its appeal that is lost in the e-book.
- It is more reliable. Print book can be used anywhere. E-book is subject to power shortage, hardware malfunctioning and software glitch. If the hard drive is damaged or wiped out, the books are gone. E-reader also needs recharging or boot time.
- Real ownership – Once you purchased the print book, you own it. You can sell it, loan it and give it away. But with e-book, you don’t really own the book. You are granted the right to read an e-book, but no right to resell it or even share it with a friend.
- Instant gratification and speedy access - buying an e-book is easy and instant. You don’t have have to wait and don’t have to go somewhere to get it. It’s easier to download a book than to go buy or borrow one.
- Convenience, flexibility and portability – the e-reader is light and easier to carry around and pack for travel. You can read it on your phone, Kindle, desktop and laptop.
- Better price – digital editions are cheaper than their print edition counterparts, though you can buy used print books very cheaply at shrift stores and garage sales, but e-books are not resellable.
- Space saver – the e-reader can hold thousands of books and doesn’t take any shelf space.
- Free books – classics and books that are in the public domain can be downloaded for free.
- More privacy – with e-books, no one can see what you’re reading. Others can’t see your book cover.
- Being green – e-books can save trees.
In the Aug. 9, 2010 issue of Newsweek, an article on print books vs. e-books shared some interesting facts:
- Average production cost is $4.05 for a $26 hardcover vs. $0.50 for a $9.99 download.
- Average author royalty is $3.90 per book vs. $2.12 per download.
- Carbon emissions required to make 40-50 books equals to make one e-reader.
- Walking to the library is still the most ecofriendly way to read.
- 2009 publisher sales totals is $249.2 million for books vs. $29.3 m. for e-books.
While e-books are certainly gaining in overall market share and becoming more mainstream as time passes, the print book industry is still the dominant player. I don’t think print books will ever go away. As long as there are people like me, the print books will never become extinct.