It was not too long ago that the books were only available in physical format. Even still there are some books that are only published in physical format and on papers. But for many books, we have the option of buying them in the traditional paper form, or electronic version. Here we look at the main reasons why some people like paper-based books and some prefer electronics books. As an avid book reader, I used to only read paper-based books and couldn’t stand reading books on electronic devices. But today I have come to appreciate some of the major advantages of electronic books while still enjoy reading paper-based books.

📒 Paper Books

When we talk about books, the image that comes to mind is the image of a physical book not an electronics book reader. There are thousands of libraries around the world which carry traditional paper books. We still heavily use paper books in schools, although it is slowly changing.

📀 Ebooks

With the advancement of technology, which ironically has benefited heavily from paper books, we now have electronics type books. These are digital files that are loaded into electronic book readers or on the computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Paper Books Vs. Ebooks: 👍 Pros and 👎 Cons

As there are people who absolutely love paper books and cannot stand reading on electronic devices, and people who will not read a book unless it is in a digital format, we have done some research to find major pros and cons of each of these two book type.

Paper Books: 👍 Pros

We have divided this to practical, and emotional aspects.

👷 Practical Aspects:
Some of the practical pros of reading paper based books are:

  • Taking any type of notes even technical notes with equations and drawings is very easy.

  • It doesn’t need a battery to charge, so you can read it anywhere and anytime as long as there is enough light.

  • Still most of the libraries have much more paper books than ebooks.

  • Can get copies with actual signature of the author.

  • For some it is easier to concentrate when reading paper books.

  • If you’re going to the pool or the beach and want to bring a book, it’s a lot easier to bring a physical book, since you can leave it alone (to go swimming or whatever) without worrying about it getting stolen. Can’t do that with a $100 Kindle. You can also leave it in your car, in your backpack at school, etc.

  • Book signing by authors is still only available for physical books.

  • It is easy to see how far in the book you are and how much is still remaining.

🤗 Emotional Aspects:
Some of the emotional pros of reading paper based books are:

  • Book collectors love the feeling of filling up bookshelves with good books. One collector says: “It gives a room ambiance and makes me feel like I’ve put another piece of my personality on display in it.”

  • When reading some prefer to be away from screens entirely, just because they are at a screen all the time and reading a paper book feels like running away from modern life for a while.

  • Many like the smell of fresh paper, and the feel of turning pages with hand.

  • Many love to see their collection of books on a shelf.

Paper Books: 👎 Cons

Some of the cons of reading paper based books are:

  • Needs a lot of space to store.

  • Some books are very heavy and difficult to hold.

  • At the time of move from one home to another the boxes of books are very heavy and are not easy to move.

  • Need to go to bookstore or libraries to pick a paper book, and if ordered online it takes some time to get it.

  • Need light to read, so at nights when others are sleeping it makes reading problematic.

  • Water and fire can easily damage paper books.

  • When go to a trip, you can take limited paper books.

  • Bad for environment as so many trees need to be cut to print paper books.

Ebooks: 👍 Pros

Some of the pros of reading ebooks are:

  • Light weight and need minimal space, 1000 of books can be carried in one ebook reader or on a phone or tablet.

  • Instant access: you can borrow or buy a book over the Internet in seconds.

  • Can read at night without needing a light source, so you can read while others are sleeping.

  • Highlighting is as easy as paper based books.

  • Note taking is very easy, and if needed user can see all the notes together or do search in them.

  • It is safe against water or fire, as you can keep a copy online.

  • You can borrow them from your local library even when you are on a trip.

  • Searching through the book is so much easier, faster and more reliable compared to paper books.

  • Adjustable font size and contrast: the same book can have fonts as large as we need to, or as small as we like. This is especially useful for people with weaker eyesight as they can increase the font size to read easily.

  • The cost of producing ebooks can be much lower than traditional paper books. If you wanted to self-publish a traditional book, it’s not particularly cheap. This limits the release of information in traditional media to people with the money and resources for such an undertaking.

  • As the popularity of big screen phones increases, now you can have your ebooks always with on your phone. With online version of a book, you can read it on your computer, then continue reading on your tablet and then on your phone right from the place you stopped reading on any of the devices.

  • In some countries physical books in a special language are very limited, but that is not the case for e-books.

  • Built-in dictionary

  • Privacy: if you don’t want others know what you are reading, e-book is the way to go as the cover of physical books announce to the world what you are reading!

Ebooks: 👎 Cons

Some of the cons of reading ebooks are:

  • Taking technical notes that need writing mathematical equations or drawing is difficult and on some devices impossible. Although as the technology advances now on some devices user can use electronics pens to take any type of notes.

  • If your ebook reader runs out of battery, you need to wait for it to be charged and if you don’t have access to a charger you cannot read.

  • Multi-tasking happens much more often when reading ebooks compared to paper books.

  • Variety of standards and still not every book format can be read on every books reader

  • Pictures and drawing on some e-books are not good quality

✴️ Some Facts:

Here are some facts that we have found during our research:

  • A 2012 study featured in the Guardian gave half its participants a story on paper, and the other half the same story on screen. The result? iPad readers didn’t feel that the story was as immersive, and therefore weren’t able to connect with it on an emotional level. Further, those who read on paper were much more capable of placing the story’s events in chronological order.

  • USA Today shared a 2013 study showing that students retain less when reading on a screen.

  • According to Digital Book World and literacy nonprofit Sesame Workshop, less than ten percent of kids and parents alike choose ebooks over print books. Parents say fancy features such as videos and interactive games are more of a distraction than a valued tool.

  • Ebooks can negatively impact your sleep: A few months ago, the Guardian reported on a Harvard study linking e-reading and sleep deprivation. If the ebook was “light emitting” it took participants an average of ten minutes longer to fall asleep than those who read physical books instead.

  • According to a study at Harvard Medical School, researchers found that reading e-books had an adverse impact on “overall health, alertness and the circadian clock, which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental time cues”. It also reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book. Basically when reading e-books, participants in the study went to bed later and were much more tired the next day. And when sleeping, they spent less time in REM sleep. So even though they were still getting 8 hours of sleep, they felt significantly less rested than when they read an actual book.

  • Everyone knows that reading to your kid is a good thing. But it turns out that all reading isn’t equal! An article from the New York Times outlines the problem with using e-readers with children. They site a 2013 study in which researchers discovered that when children (ages 3-5) were read to from an electronic book, they had a lower reading comprehension score than children being read to from a traditional story book. They found that the device was distracting from the actual story. Because both parents and children spent more significant time interacting with the e-reader than concentrating on explaining and discussing the story elements and language.

  • As reported by The Guardian, a study by lead researcher Anne Mangen (of Norway’s Stavanger University) found that stories read on e-readers were not remembered as well as when they were read on a more traditional medium. In the study, the researchers gave 50 readers a short story. Half read it in a book, and the other half on a Kindle. Then they gave them a test on what they’d read. “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order,” Mangen said. She theorized as to why this was, “When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right. You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual–Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.” Mangen feels that your brain needs the physical sense of where things fall in the story to remember the events as they take place. Something you simply don’t get with a Kindle or other e-reader.

  • Reading on paper may boost retention: Several small studies suggest that reading on paper instead of an electronic screen is better for memory retention and focus. The Guardian reported on an experiment from Norway where people were given a short story to read either on a Kindle or in a paperback book; when they were quizzed later, those who read the paperback were more likely to remember plot points in the right order.

  • Paper suits readers with sleep problems and eye strain. High levels of screen luminance from an electronic device can contribute to visual fatigue, a condition marked by tired, itching, burning eyes.

  • A 2014 study published in the journal PNAS found that reading an e-book before bedtime decreased the production of melatonin, a hormone that preps the body for sleep. E-books also impaired alertness the following day.

  • Books are not just vehicles for accessing information, but they are also decorative objects. Who hasn’t been warmed by a home full of book-lined shelves?

  • Audio Option With E-Books. Many time E-book readers can read the book aloud. This is specially useful during commuting, or when you are too tired to look at the book.

  • After reaching a peak in 2014, sales of e-readers and ebooks have slowed and hardback sales have surged. The latest figures from the Publishing Association showed ebook sales falling 17% in 2016, with an 8% rise in their physical counterparts.