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Cover image for Do you prefer physical books over e-books? And why?

Do you prefer physical books over e-books? And why?

hanpari profile image Pavel Morava Originally published at blog.pavelmorava.com ・2 min read

Ten years ago, I would have answered otherwise, but as of today, I prefer e-books over traditional books. I have changed my mind because of three main reasons: availability, ecology, and content.

As for the first bullet, no vivid reader should have trouble understanding it. I keep reading everywhere, under all possible circumstances. The digital books offer comfort, with which no paper book can compete. The only cons I can think of are the massive strain for the reader's eyes (when reading on mobiles) and the vulnerability of e-readers against water. Oncoming rain makes me nervous when I am outside with my electronics.

The second bullet is what I have realized during my countless attempts to manage and store my paper books. Curiously enough, they became my property for many reasons, and in most cases, I had read them only once - or not at all if they were unfitting gifts.

Watching those piles of books, I found out I do not need them. There are a few volumes I can read over and over again, but for the rest, I am afraid the only way how to utilize them would be a warming campfire.

Was it indispensable to cut off a tree to print all these books? A decade ago perhaps, but today I call it a senseless waste of resources. To have my precious comfort with a one-use-only book or save a tree? From the person involved in Rational Ecology, you may rightfully call it sheer hypocrisy.

Finally, here comes the last bullet, which is all about the content. The Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight have proved that the Western audience (encouraged by Hollywood) can turn almost everything into a bestseller, no matter the literary quality.

Writers, obsessed by formal perfection, keep endorsing editors and neglect the unbearable state of affairs in the decaying world of Western literature. Under the futile assumption that leisure reading has never demanded an art, they keep delivering one unoriginal story after another. Fighting once again the evil shadow in the East? No, thank you, I read my Tolkien about twenty years ago.

Fortunately, thanks to the Internet and effort of numerous translators, we can exchange the exhausted winds for new fresh air, be them new genres (LitRpg), ridiculed fanfictions, or even playable novels.

Fascinated by the endless possibilities, I got involved in Online Novels Space because I sincerely believe that traditional publishing and books are hindrances. Not only they present an avoidable burden to our living environment, but they limit (intentionally or not) chances of their readers getting acquainted with something new.

I grew tired of those "established" writers, looking down on "amateurs" who do not mind to give their work for free. Admittedly, free online reading offers flawed pieces of varying quality, but more importantly, this literature lacks autocensorship. Having no rules to follow, online writers exercise the ultimate freedom in expressing themselves.

Without the Internet and electronic devices, I would never have the opportunity to read them - or read at all since paper books have lost their magic for me.

What is your opinion? Share it in the discussion below.

Discussion (10)

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zainrzv profile image
Zain Rizvi πŸ”¬

I strongly prefer physical books because it's easier to take notes in the margins and compare content on different pages (Example: here are pictures of my notes from The Art of Doing Science and Engineering).

That said, in practice I often end up reading on my phone since it's usually what's on me πŸ˜…

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava Author

I forgot to mention explicitly the post was about fiction. I prefer printed technical literature as well.

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zainrzv profile image
Zain Rizvi πŸ”¬

Oh, then yeah, 100% with you on the fiction front

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botanical profile image
Jennifer Tran

I prefer digital books as well. Even technical literature can be imported to apps such as GoodNotes that allow for annotation and highlighting. I prefer digital books because I also like that provides portability, accessibility (being able to increase font size, screen brightness, etc), and reduces the number of material possessions I own.

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava Author

Never heard of Google Notes. Thanks for tip.

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt

For pocket size books, I prefer paper, as it is easy for my eyes. I never like light or dark digital screen as much as slightly brown paper.

For textbooks, I prefer e-book, plus a paper notebook, for taking notes.

But I think it depends, as my sister do annotate PDF's.

Papers do have a merit, as there is one less software / technology to worry about.

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava Author

Paper tend to pile up, though.

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yujiri8 profile image
Ryan Westlund

I absolutely agree. Digital content has so many practical advantages, being able to copy infinitely and distribute without cost, being able to search for text, hyperlinks...

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hanpari profile image
Pavel Morava Author

Yep, this one I forgot. But you are completely right. Even graphics are available with no additional cost.

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33nano profile image
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Depends on the content. Programming books are best served in physical format. Everything else is good in epub format

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