Ebooks vs. Real Books: Who’s The Winner?

There’s something going around on Facebook.

Don’t worry, it’s not a virus. At least I don’t think it is. Though there’s a high likelihood you’ll come down with a severe case of forehead smacking, given this election cycle.

What I’m referring to is summed up pretty well in this picture.


These kinds of memes always spark a heated discussion, and it surprises me. I have both a respectable collection of physical books and three – yes, three – kindles. I don’t much care what format my books are in, but I will say it’s a lot easier to hide book hoarding tendencies on a device.

iPadBut some people care big time how their books appear – and those who care the most are usually those securely planted on the printed books side of the debate. They say ebooks take away from the overall experience, that you miss the smell and feel of books, and there’s something about having a stack of books on your nightstand. Plus, real books need not be charged.

On the ebook side of the debate are those like me, who can’t afford to hoard real books as our compulsions demand. Also, there’s the whole aspect of using fewer resources to produce ebooks – no trees or ink needed. Fewer resources = lower price in the long run and better for the environment.

I believe this is a hot debate because it isn’t fueled solely by book lovers. Last year, this rather misleading article came out, as if people were holding their collective breath, waiting for print books’ death rattle. Meanwhile, the Author Earnings Report (see this article for more about that) paints quite a different picture – ebooks are doing quite well, thankyouverymuch. The first article decided to only report on the big publishers, who tend to hike up ebook prices to push print sales, so of course their ebook sales are down.

The interesting thingΒ was when that first article came out, there was a collective rejoicing among print book lovers, with many comments along these lines: See! I told you real books were better! or Thank God! I’ll never give up my print books!

Relax, print fans. No one’s asking you to give up anything.Β Consider this:

kindle stairsYou likely have a phone handy. You may have watched TV shows on it. Are smart phones a threat to TV manufacturers or channels?

There are about eleventy billion gaming apps for various devices. Are they a threat to console gaming systems?

Why haven’t electronic games spelled death for board games?

It’s true that some technologies become outmoded as new products are developed (VHS? What’s that?) but that’s not what’s happening here. As long as the demand for print books remains (and it will), authors and publishers will still produce printed books. Ebooks and print books (and audiobooks) are different means to the same end. And you know what? Neither format is “better” than the other.

Ebooks vs. print books comes down to preference, and the funny thing about preference is no one is wrong. Take a different product entirely – I like Firehouse Subs and my husband likes Jimmy John’s. I’m not gonna get all up in his face for liking the “wrong” sub place that will surely lead to the end of my favorite place. Doing that would make me look silly, because there’s a strong overall demand for sandwiches from both places.

So I suggest using our fighting energy for more important battles. That said, if you’d like to make a case for ebooks or print books in the comments, feel free to do so, but let’s keep it civil, okay?

45 thoughts on “Ebooks vs. Real Books: Who’s The Winner?

    • Gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’ve never finished any ebook I’ve purchased. I just get sick of staring at screens. Great read!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s why I like to set my kindle to track percent complete. LOL. Although I do miss the satisfaction of seeing how far the bookmark moved.

        Thanks for reading and commenting! 😊


  1. Pingback: What Did You Like? 2016 In Review | Allison Maruska

  2. I have two Kindles that I enjoyed using but I haven’t used them in years. The updates in the software is what ended my usage of Kindles. I want my reading to be super simple and not distracting and time consuming before you can read.

    Because my time is limited, I then turned to audio books and read a lot of books in my car while driving. I’d slip a CD into the CD player and listen. It made the drive easy and effortless and was so simple to do.

    Then I turned in my old car for a new version a few months ago and that put an end to my audio book reading, because of new technology that isn’t simple and easy to use. Toyota and other car manufactures are doing away with CD players and trying to listen to audio books has become distracting, frustrating and expensive. Enough said on that. I could write a blog post about this and plan to write letters complaining to Toyota.

    Electronic devices that require software updates are, I think, a pest at best and downright horrible at worst.

    I’m going to be returning to paper books and we are not causing the forests to be cut down to produce the paper because pulp comes from plantations/ tree farms established for the specific purpose of growing pulpwood.

    “Trees raised specifically for pulp production account for 16% of world pulp production, old growth forests 9% and second- and third- and more generation forests account for the balance.[1] Reforestation is practiced in most areas, so trees are a renewable resource.”

    > trees are a renewable resource <


    We lose more forests to clearing land to raise cows for hamburgers and prime rib then we do to produce paperback and hardcover books, because those forests are not renewed. They are turned into cropland to grow animal feed for cows, hogs and goats, etc.

    If anyone wants to save old growth forests or even second and third generation forests, stop eating red meat.


    A paperback book does not need repeated software updates and a battery recharged every ten hours of usage or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right about the software updates being a pain. I have one of the original Kindles, and after not using it for a while, I thought it would be useful to read outside because it glares less than the newer models. It took about an hour for me to figure out how to update it, and then I had to send the books I wanted to read directly to it. Definitely a hassle.

      Good information about renewable forests. Thanks for sharing.

      Enjoy those paperbacks! πŸ™‚


  3. I’ll be honest here, my kindle is totally edging my TV out. LOL. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I watched netflix on my TV, it’s so much easier to do on my kindle. And 85% of the time that’s what I use my kindle for. But I must admit going on vacation with my 2 pound kindle loaded with 12 books is much more pleasant that going on vacation with 12 physical books. Gives me more room to back board games. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have often thought this was a war between boomers and millennials. But maybe not. We old school boomers love our books, we’re the last of the pre-windows generation and we’re proud of it. But we’ve also grabbed wholesale onto the technology of the flat screen. I’m with you. I don’t think it’s worth a fight. Just grab a book or a kindle and forgetaboudit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s funny – kids and teens seem to prefer phsyical books, and most ebooks are read by adults. I wonder if the younger folks see devices as used primarily for gaming, or if reading on them is something that comes when you have to buy your own reading material.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have print books, ebooks and audiobooks – each for a different time and purpose. I’ve always got a selection of ebooks with me, and I’d rather lug them around (just in case) than the same number of print books! A little bit of each does me just fine. Thanks. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I could rhapsodize about how much I love curling up with a book. The way I play with the edges of the page with my fingers as I read, the whisper as I turn from page to page.

    But honestly? I move a lot. Printed books are heavy. All the ebooks I own weigh only as much as my Kindle.

    Don’t get me wrong – my husband and I have so many books that it takes about half a dozen bookshelves to hold them, and they’re still shoved in every available space. Screw neat, we just want the books off the floor. And we’re unlikely to ditch the lot anytime soon, even with a move coming up this summer.

    And both of our children (ages 1 and 6) read exclusively printed books, and we have no intention of changing that anytime soon. Our house is littered with Dr Suess and Sandra Boynton and everyone in between.

    But me, personally? It’s way easier to pack a Kindle than it is six bookshelves of books. ebooks all the way.

    (Okay, I bought the Hamiltome in hard copy, but that’s the HAMILTOME.)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. To me it doesn’t matter the medium the book is in, I love to read. The better the story the more engrossed in it I am regardless if the words are in pixels, or ink. The problem with reading an e-book is I use that device to do other things. If the story begins to lag, I might check my email, surf the web, or play spider solitaire. With a book I might power through that section until the story got rolling again.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. There is also the environment factor to consider. So, even if print books are dearly loved, the cost to the environment may eventually be such that we all will go paperless. We’re already doing that at some workplaces and billing. Why not books too? However, that will be a while yet. It will be gradual . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a very real consideration. Real books take resources to produce and eventually decay. However, e-readers will eventually wear out too, and e-waste is a big problem in the third world where we first-world countries like to ship our broken electronics. I think long-term, though, as we figure out safer ways to deal with electronic waste, e-readers will ultimately prove more environmentally friendly.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. As a writer, I prefer print books because I already spend so much time in front of a computer screen. My own book collection is a sloppy mess, although I do have them organized in a manner that makes sense to me. If other people would rather use an e-reader, that’s fine with me. As long as people keep reading, that’s what really matters.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. To read is a basic human need and the printed book will always be the instinctive medium, my 7 and 10 year old grand kids have iPads but always read print books, to them words have no magic on screen, they have to hold and turn pages, see and sense the words of their favourite authors on paper, it’s an elemental physical organic connection, it is in our genes.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a built in bookcase filled to the brim with books that I absolutely positively had to own in physical form for various reasons and I also have three kindles and the kindle app on all my devices. Hmm, seeing it all in print like this makes me feel as if I may have a problem…

    I really don’t care what form my books take as long as I have something to read when and where I want.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Reading habits vary. From an author’s viewpoint you are looking to produce a page turner or a can’t put down epic novel. The kindle or e-book allows for the more rapid read. My reading method probably contradicts the normal. Some might attribute this to a butterfly mind. I usually have four books on the go.
    Books do allow you an immediacy of access without having to switch a device on. A non fiction can be absorbing, but also, for me at any rate demanding to digest. A modern novel or two, a relaxing alternative where you view again the story and this time delve more deeply, not then immediately returning to the non fiction book. Newspaper articles and commentaries lend themselves to being read on a device.
    I admit to scanning, picking and choosing rather than reading these from beginning to end. On Kindle you can refer back and forward and skip early chapters when the progress is a bit slow, but then reading habits are individual and will vary from person to person. Choice of reading -book e-book or now more frequently audio are really a gift to the writer, who can reach out to a wider audience.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Excellent point. These different formats allow for greater reach. I tend to promote my ebooks more because they sell much better, but I certainly see sales from the other formats as well.
      My reading habits are a lot like yours – I’m currently alternating between four books. πŸ™‚


  13. Print books will eventually die just as everything else does. The question is when. For example, print books were very rare 3000 years ago and 3000 years from now I seriously doubt they will still be around. However, during my lifetime we have seen different technologies come and go. DVDs did not exist when I was born. VHS came and went. Betamax came and went. MTV kind of came and went because they don’t really play music anymore.

    Books may be better for certain aspects. The beach, for example. BTW, if your book smells, there’s something wrong with it. If my computer smells, I’m getting a new one.

    It’s fair to say that everybody who is born today will not have a great fondness for printed books. Therefore, as they grow old to age 70 or 80 or 100, whatever technology they prefer it will become the dominant media. Those who prefer paper are probably older and will eventually die out. But that does not mean e-books will become dominant. It simply means whatever most people want is what will be in most demand. I don’t see paper lasting 3000 more years. I don’t see kindles lasting 3000 more years either. What will become popular 50 years from now is probably something that does not exist today, much in the same way that you would drive from Denver to South Dakota and listen to music from your phone instead of the car radio, channeling not CDs or cassette tapes or even MP3s but stuff you are streaming from Pandora. Most of that didn’t exist 10 years ago. In a digital age that is rolling like a snowball down a hill, I seriously doubt they will exist 10 years from now. I don’t see Facebook lasting 10 years, do you? It’s basically email with pictures. As soon as somebody figures out a better way, it’s going bye-bye. In fact, Messenger has pretty much replaced my use of Facebook in general.

    So I predict the demise of both paper books and e-books. I just hope I’m selling a lot of whatever replaces them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right; there’s probably some other big thing on the horizon. I have a friend who used to work for Sony. He said they’d go from concept to final product in less than a year, over and over. He told me that as a response to me telling him how long it takes for a book under contract to be published.
      I wonder if Facebook will be around in ten years. They took out MySpace and Google+ certainly tried to make a dent, and they’re nowhere near FB’s influence. FB is a bohemoth.


      • But if something newer/ better/ faster comes along, then FB is toast. MySpace is a great example. Gone. Buried by Facebook. And so will FB be one day, and probably one day soon. Within 10 years, maybe five – unless…

        Unless they buy whatever new thing threatens them. MySpace didn’t have the cash to do that and FB does, but that merely means FB is the new thing. Like Messenger. That’s FB texting. I could go without much of Facebook and just use Messenger, and for that matter I could just text the people I wanna text and leave the FB dataminers out of it. That’s how you know it has a shelf life.

        They could also implode by having bad management, crappy customer service, a weak product evolution, or if by getting hacked and millions of users’ personal info and credit cards get stolen and nobody trusts them anymore. Lots of stuff could bring them down. But the most likely is a better product that isn’t on anybody’s radar screen right now.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s such a personal thing, isn’t it? I had a Kindle but gave it away as I couldn’t get on with it. I’m a real book girl all the way – I write notes in the margins and highlight bits I like. That said, I actually hardly ever read so what I think doesn’t really count! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

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