In the case of ebooks vs. printed books, have you ever wondered which are better? The answer may surprise you. Analysts once predicted that ebooks would overtake print by 2015. After all, they’re lighter to pack on a trip and easier to carry around; they don’t clutter shelves; they don’t weigh down backpacks. Yet, sales of ebooks everywhere have slipped lately, and there are signs that even ebooks adopters are returning to printed books. Are paper books just better than ebooks? Or is it the other way round? Which side are you on?

Some people might think that it is an open and shut case whether books or ebooks are superior. But then again, the fact that you are reading this indicates that there are two sides to this debate. Surprisingly, there are good arguments on both sides, so we’ve put together a short list of pros and cons for ebooks vs. books.

Which are better – ebooks or printed books?


The main differences between ebooks and printed books

We all are quite accustomed with printed books as they give us the authentic look and feel of the traditional ‘book’, as you can touch the paper, flip pages, smell the fragrance, etc. However, an ebook is a comparatively new concept. An eBook is nothing but the electronic version of the printed book.

When a book is available in a digital format, it is termed as an eBook. By the term ‘available’, we mean the book offered, stored, distributed and read in electronic form. It comprises of text, graphics, tables, etc. which can be readable in a flat-panel or touch screen devices, such as a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, mobile or eBook reader.

While ebooks are helping the publishing industry, they can be a bit daunting for readers. If you are used to going to a local bookstore, browsing the aisles, and perhaps reading the first chapter before purchasing, you still can with ebooks, albeit with a little adjustment. Indeed, print books have the feel of a book that many readers love.

You can hold it, turn the pages, and feel the paper, and illustrations on paper are generally higher quality than even high-end e-readers can reproduce. On the other hand, however, ebooks come with font style and size flexibility and e-readers can store thousands of books on a single device.

The cost difference

An eBook is cheaper in comparison to the printed one, however, the initial price of an eReader is higher than print. A study also revealed that the e-reader is costlier, i.e. it has a premium price, which the consumer needs to bear. Moreover, it also has some sort of annual charges. Of course you don’t have to buy an e-reader to read ebooks. You can just use your laptop, an Apple iPad or other tablet device, or even a phone app which do not require any periodical charges.

So the main takeaway is that print books are still a little more expensive than e-books, but not all that much. Classics are the real bargain in any format. You can get Charles Dickens: The Complete Works for Kindle for $2.99, while Bleak House alone is $5.95 in paperback. Both prices are bargains, of course, because the publishers don’t have to pay anyone for the rights.

Ease of use

Ebooks can be used in most places so long as you can keep the reading devices charged. Most eBooks can even be read in the dark. It is also super convenient to download an eBook since you can have it in seconds so long as there is wifi or a good cellular signal.

Printed books, on the other hand, require no power to operate so that you can read them easily in any environment with light. You don’t need power to “recharge” a book. Many users report having more eye strain reading eBooks than physical books. In addition, it is much easier to work with multiple books and sources (for example, to write a research paper) when dealing with physical books, as well as adding notes and highlighting interesting paragraphs.

Learning and comprehension

Some readers with physical limitations, such as poor eyesight or dyslexia, may find electronic text easier since they can magnify the font and enjoy some of the interactive features of ebooks. However, many studies confirm that reading comprehension is better with physical books. Even if young people may read more quickly on an eReader, the speed, the potential distractions of links, scrolling, and ads usually mean people remember and retain what they are reading better in books.

Environmental impact

Evaluating the environmental impact of books and eBooks is complicated. Ereaders take a lot more carbon to produce than printed books do, therefore studies indicate you need to read between twenty-two and one hundred books on a reader to make it more environmentally conscious than physical books. In addition, you need to consider that eReaders need to be recycled properly, have to recharge regularly, and contain some toxic metals requiring specific disposal.