E-books or Paper Books?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 1 comment

E-books are quickly becoming vogue in a world of smart phones, e-readers and tablets. However, there are still book connoisseurs religiously devoted to traditional books. There is no question that the ranks of book lovers are easily divided over the superior experience of reading an ink and paper copy of a favorite book instead of a cold, virtual electronic format. Beyond personal preferences for the reading experience, here is a look at the pros and cons of these two formats as it will affect your pocketbook.

Outright cost: E-books aren’t always cheaper
It’s common knowledge that it costs publishers much less to produce paperbacks and hardcovers than they let on. You’ll often find that the hardcover version of a book is available for $25, while the same book in paperback or electronic format is only $13. Does it really cost that much more to produce a hardcover? Although it’s easier and less costly for publishers to produce books in digital format than to print them, the total package price of electronic books is still roughly that of paperbacks, and in some cases, more. Considering production costs, it would seem that e-books should be incredibly cheap. But since electronic books require no re-prints and are easier to update, the same ‘copy’ of a book in digital format will retain its value longer than its printed counterpart. Publishers are also able to offer huge price cuts on paperbacks when books are reprinted or over-printed, savings which trickles down to the consumer.

Pros and Cons
Since paperbacks and e-books often cost the same, which should you choose? Here are some pros and cons of paperbacks and e-books.

  • Availability & value. Since e-books are fairly new, there are still thousands of books not yet available electronically. Some books hold high sentimental and even monetary value if they are antique or rare; electronic books can’t carry this value.
  • The used book market. Used books aren’t a concept transferable to e-books. You can often find used books much cheaper than new ones, and, as mentioned, e-books rarely lose their value.
  • The reading experience. Many readers simply enjoy the feel of books and being able to turn pages versus reading from a computer screen. Market developers have tried various features to enhance the book-like qualities of e-readers, but for some, it’s just not the same.
  • Technological advances. E-books do have some advantages. Most e-readers have organizational and reference features paperbacks just can’t compete with, such as easily retrieving highlighted texts, notes and bookmarks, built-in dictionaries, phrase searching and even social media sharing. Because e-readers are electronic and their memory is stored, your books are also safer than on paper, where they can be more easily damaged or destroyed.
  • Storage limitations. Although books are very portable, they take up a lot more physical space, which is limited. Libraries can only hold so many printed books, and personal libraries even less. If your bookshelf is getting too full, you might want to start buying e-books, especially for those which hold no sentimental value. Producing e-books is also more environmentally-friendly than printing, so keep that in mind if you value sustainability. You can always sell your unwanted books to produce cash for more e-books.
  • Some discounts. And, even though many best-selling and new release books will cost just as much on your Kindle or Nook as they do from the bookstore shelf, you may be able to find classics, short stories, and other e-book-only titles that are as cheap as $.99.

In conclusion, printed books still have their place, but electronic books are quickly becoming the medium of choice for modern authors and readers. Enjoy the advantages of both worlds and save money, space, and the environment whenever possible.

Bonus Tip:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Texas Aggie April 27, 2013 at 11:15 am

Paperbacks from used bookstores, even with S&H, are cheaper than e-books, and once you have them, no one can take them away. You can loan them. You can copy them for your classes. The same cannot be said for e-books.

The only advantage of e-books would be being able to find particular passages, and that mostly applies to textbooks which you don’t buy second hand if it is something important enough to want to use for reference.

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