Monday, January 31, 2011

Ebooks vs Printed Books Part 2

As I’ve gathered information on what motivates people towards printed books instead of ebooks, I’ve found that many of the motivators are intangible or emotional in nature that will probably make it difficult for ebooks to completely overcome print books. I’ve summarized below the different responses that I have received on my blog as well as on the different social networks I participate in.

Here you go:
  • Some people love the feel, texture, weight and smell of printed books
  • Some people like being able to see the attractive cover of a book while it’s on their nightstand, table, or bookshelf
  • Some people have an emotional, nostalgic feeling toward printed books
  • Printed books do not require batteries
  • Printed books can be read on an airplane during the entire flight, and don’t need to be turned off like ebook readers during take-off and landings
  • ebooks are yet one more electronic appliance that requires a charger that people don’t want to have to deal with.
  • Printed books are more convenient than ebooks for some people
  • More printed books are available from more libraries than ebooks
  • Printed books are easier on the eyes than some ebook readers for some people, especially for long periods of time
  • Printed books are easier to read outside in bright daylight than some ebook readers
  • Some printed books are less expensive than ebooks
  • Some people don’t like having to learn how to use a new gadget just to read a book
  • Printed books can easily be loaned to or from friends
  • Used printed books can often be bought for less than ebooks
  • The probability of malfunction, breakage, or loss of an ebook reader can make them much more expensive than print books
  • It’s more enjoyable to curl up with a good book on a cushy chair or sofa, an experience that would not be as emotionally satisfying with an ebook reader
  • Physically turning or flipping through the pages of a printed book is more satisfying than scrolling the screen of an ebook reader
  • Being able to see the physical representation of pages read is more satisfying
  • Printed books promote shared reading and the close, emotional bond that can be created between parent and child sitting together to read a book
  • Printed books are more accessible and easier to make available to small children
  • Ebooks cannot replicate the emotional feeling and entertainment value that comes from turning the pages of a printed picture book or early reader that is being read aloud to a child
  • With printed books you don’t have the worry that you have with the potential for your ebook reader to crash, causing your entire library to disappear until you can buy a new reader and hopefully recover all your lost ebooks
  • With printed books you don’t have the worry that your ebook vendor might accidentally (or even purposefully) remove from your reader ebooks that you have purchased
  • Some people don’t want to trust their entire library of books to a digital network or storage
  • Some people simply love being surrounded by lots of real books or looking at bookshelves full of past books they’ve enjoyed reading
  • It’s easier for some people to make notes in, mark, or underline text in printed books
  • Ebooks cannot adequately measure up to a beautifully illustrated printed children's book
  • Referring back to previous pages of text with illustrations in printed books is easier for some people
  • People using large font sizes on ebooks have to turn the page more frequently than they do for large type printed books
  • For some people the simplicity of the traditional printed book is much more beautiful and emotionally appealing
Did I miss anything else?


  1. Bravo! For me, the texture of the paper, type of binding, the quality of printing -- all these and more contribute to a tactile experience with books that electronic readers cannot reproduce. The inherently sequential nature and small viewport of electronic books make also it difficult to grasp a book's overall content and lack the aesthetics communicated by good book design.

  2. What about the aesthetic nature of "real" books (especially books for children) which can never be replicated digitally? Imagine the loss of pop-up books, texture books, scatch & smell books, etc. These and other activities are all part of the whole reading experience, particularly for young readers.
    If the market dries up for traditional books, you can also bet that our society will begin to lose the fine art of bookmaking.

  3. An overwhelming summary of why we all love a printed book! The sensory experience of paper, in all it's forms, can't be duplicated with an electronic box.
    But the box has other qualities that are attracting a huge market. We have to look with the perspective of those who use the books. I am not familiar with any studies of use preferences for childrens books, but have read that college students do in fact prefer paper-printed text books! Their preferences are for many of the very same reasons listed above.
    So what is driving the surge of e-books?