Debate It: E-books vs. Physical Books

Hey everyone! It’s time for this months edition of Debate It! For March we’ve decided to discuss the pros and cons (that we personally have) about physical books vs. e-books. We know that this is a topic people discuss a lot, so we figured we may as well toss our proverbial hat in the ring and get our opinions heard in a good ol’ friendly argument.

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Chana:

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the whole physical vs. e-books thing. I love owning physical books because there really is nothing like holding a book in your hand, the feel of the pages, the smell, it’s all awesome! But when it really comes down to it, I would have to side with e-books. Like I said, I have nothing against physical books, but e-books are just so much easier! I love reading on my commute, and since I commute a total of about two and a half hours every day, it’s the perfect time to get some reading done.

Because of the fact that I mainly read on the go nowadays, physical books are just not practical. It doesn’t make much sense for me to schlep around a heavy bag with school stuff and a book. Also, being that subway is what it is, many times I’m left standing in very squished spaces where it’s not exactly convenient to whip out a physical copy of a book to read. Meanwhile, having a book on my phone is simple as it literally fits into the palm of my hand. E-books make reading convenient wherever I go, and for that, I have to side with them.  

Actual footage of me on the subway

Malka:

See, I totally understand this line of reasoning. Reading on my commute (also the subway) would be a wonderful thing, but there are 2 issues I have with this. Number one is that I’m extremely sensory, so if people are having loud conversations, or there’s music playing I won’t be able to read on the subway, or while waiting somewhere, or other scenarios that make e-books much more appealing to people. But lest you think that’s the only thing keeping e-books from being my preferred format, let me bring reason number two. I am very easily distracted, and reading on my phone does not help with matters. Every time I get a notification, I get thrown out of the story and go to see what’s dragging my attention.

Malka to anyone anytime she’s reading

But it’s not just that I have a hard time focusing when it comes to e-books, I also prefer the feeling of a physical book in my hand. When I read e-books I tend to get obsessed with the percentage I’ve read, since I can’t count pages normally. With physical books, on the other hand, I enjoy knowing my page number, and weirdly find it fun turning that into a percentage on my own. Plus, since I have a weird memory, when reading a physical book, I can find a quote or scene I liked pretty easily on my own, whereas with e-books that tends to get lost in the shuffle or I have to search it up. So for me, it just is more enjoyable to read a physical copy.

Chana:

I get what you’re saying, but I actually feel the complete opposite about the percentage thing. For me, when I’m reading an e-book I feel like I’m reading it so much faster because of the percentage. And if I ever don’t want it there, I can just click at the bottom of the screen to replace it with a page number or to make anything that keeps track of where I’m up to disappear. This is another reason why I can’t get enough of e-books. There are so many great features that are incredibly convenient. I can highlight a quote or make a note of something at a certain part of the book and find it easily afterward. All the highlights or notes that I make are automatically uploaded to my Goodreads account (and can be opted in as public or private). While reading a book on my kindle app, I can add it to Goodreads, and it will automatically update as read with the rating I’ve given once I finish it. I know I sort of sound like an add for an e-reader right now, but I would never highlight anything in a physical book, but an e-book gives me the opportunity to do that.

I also love how I can have a multitude of e-books on me at once with no extra weight! I always anywhere from 5-12 unread books on my kindle at a time (courtesy of my libraries e-book collection), and it’s perfect for if I ever get stuck in a slump in one book and feel like I have to switch to another. Something else I love about e-books is the fact that it keeps track of my reading. I know I have Goodreads, but the Kindle app has all these cool reading insights like how many books you’ve read on the kindle that year, how many consecutive days/weeks you’ve been reading on the Kindle, and how many of the books on the Kindle have you borrowed from the library. I love a good batch of information, so that feature is a definite pro.

When I see how little I’ve actually read in my insights

Malka:

See, I like the fun of adding books to my Goodreads manually once I finish. It makes it feel like an accomplishment. Like, finally after having that book on my currently reading shelf for 3 months I am victorious! (And by victorious I mean I get to mark it as read and rate it. Just so we’re clear.)

Also, just to throw it out there. I know people love e-books because of how cheap they are, so I wanted to address why that isn’t a draw for me. I actually don’t buy very many books a month (or year). My biggest hauls are always after my birthday or BookCon. Instead, I use my library. I’m there at least once a week, or if I’m not around I ask my mother or friend to pick up any holds that come in. For me, it’s the perfect way to read books without buying them, leaving me to spend my money only on the books I know I’ll love and must own. But this isn’t about my love of libraries. It’s just me explaining why the low cost of e-books doesn’t keep me from reading physical books.

And to end this all off I’d like to say that I DO read e-books. Sometimes I go months without reading an e-book, but I have read several favorites on my phone or my Kindle when I had one (RIP). It’s just that when it comes to preference, physical books have my heart.

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So what do you prefer? Do you just love holding the physical books? Or does the ease and cost of e-books lure you in? Which argument did you find most convincing? Are you #teammalka or #teamchana?

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24 thoughts on “Debate It: E-books vs. Physical Books

  1. Ebooks or physical books?

    YES PLEASE. I love both for very different reasons.

    Physical books: there’s nothing like holding a book in your hands, turning the pages, easily turning back to that one scene or that one bit of information in order to reread it. There’s something so wonderful about browsing shelves of books at the store or library, touching them, seeing their colors and fonts so vividly displayed in front of you, and I love having stacks of books sitting across the room, just waiting for me to make time to read them.

    Ebooks: SO convenient. I can take a ton of books on vacation with me and it doesn’t even weigh a single pound. A few clicks and I’m able to read that book I’ve been waiting for for AGES while never even leaving my chair or changing out of my gross around-the-house clothes, or at 3 am. I can finish one book, click a few buttons, and be reading the next one in seconds (again, without leaving my seat!). If I need, I can increase the text size to better suit my eyes. And- the best part, in my opinion- when it’s cold, I can keep my icy hands stuffed in the sleeves of my sweatshirt or keep my gloves on if I’m reading in the car and STILL TURN THE PAGES!!!!! If that’s not real life magic, I don’t know what is.

    I love them both. I love books in every single form, and I’m so happy that I have so many great options when it comes to format.

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  2. While owning and holding a physical book is a great feeling, I have realized convenience is more important for me these days and ebooks and even audiobooks are just lifesavers.. and I also think I read ebooks faster and with more concentration… I also love being able to highlight easily in them 😊😊

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  3. Physical books look nice for photos and whatnot, but ebooks are easier. Like Chana, I read on the go. I do a lot of reading during my daily commute. I also have carpel tunnel and tendon issues with my hands, as well as eye issues, which make reading a physical book difficult. I love being able to carry around 2000+ books on my kindle and being able to easily make notes as I read. I read faster on my kindle as well, which is always a plus

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  4. I prefer physical books. I don’t mind the extra weight but I do try to keep it small and light. I can’t read in buses or trains because I can’t read with all the movement and distractions. As for ebooks, I occasionally read them too!

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  5. I honestly like both types of books, and I often switch between ebook and physical books depending on my mood and circumstances. I can’t even quite define what it is that sometimes makes me really want to pick up a physical book and sometimes want to pick up an ebook. Sometimes there are obvious factors (like I don’t want to carry a physical book with me somewhere), but sometimes I’m just in the “mood” for one or the other. I actually think it’s kind of weird!

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  6. This is such a great debate! I have to say, I really love both types of books and wouldn’t know how to pick… okay, maybe my heart will go out to the physical copy, because I always love holding a real, physical book in my hands and turning the pages and everything. Yet, ebooks are so practical, I often read on the commute too and I love how I can pack 10 books with me without it weighting a ton hahaha 🙂
    Lovely post! 🙂

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    1. YES! Turning pages is so satisfying! And the practicality of e-books is not something I’m denying because when it’s quiet enough for me to read outside of my house it’s great that I have a book on hand. Weirdly enough I don’t have very many books on my Kindle. I guess I don’t like my TBR getting out of hand no matter the format!

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  7. I loved this discussion and how you both had different feels about it! And I agree with both sides?! Like I LOVE the convenience of ebooks, but I also find it really hard to focus on them for some reason? I just find it easier/faster to read physical books and flip pages. Also I am really intensely keen on bookstagram, so I kind of need physical books. 😂But BOTH. Both is still good.

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    1. Focusing on ebooks can be really difficult! I think the small screen doesn’t help matters, and the physical feel of the pages usually grounds me to a book when I read it. I’m not sure which format I read fastest in because I have different reading paces for each book I read. I guess it will remain one of life’s unanswered questions. And YES! Bookstagram is definitely feeding my need to have all books in a physical form!

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  8. This was a really interesting back and forth! I actually have similar feelings to both of you (so I constantly feel pulled in both directions lol). On the one hand, ebooks are so damn convenient. I’m usually reading more than one book at a time, too, so it’s nice to always have at least one currently reading on my kindle so I don’t have to lug everything around. That being said, I will never be able to give up physical books entirely. I have trouble focusing on ebooks, especially if they’re really long books and/or nonfiction.

    This was a great post and I loved the debate!

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    1. I definitely hear that! I usually have a book on my kindle that I can read if the time is right, but in terms of preference I lean toward the towering stack of books on my nightstand and on my shelves.

      And I very much agree about the lack of focus issue when it comes to ebooks. I do most of my reading at night, when I’m tired and staring at a tiny screen is really difficult at that point in my day.

      Thank you!

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  9. I definitely like a mixture of both, physical books because I prefer the experience of reading them, and ebooks for the convenience.
    I like being able to take my Kindle around easily in my bag, and having so many books with me at once, plus I do find more bargains with ebooks. However, I like owning physical copies of my favourite books to have on my shelves, and I like the feel of reading them much better. Plus I use the library a lot too, so I read a lot physical books because of that.
    Great post! 🙂

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    1. Convenience is generally why I reach for an ebook as well, but if I’m at home with both options in front of me, I reach for physical books 90% of the time.

      I think I should start doing the numbers because I’m pretty sure that 50%, if not more, or what I read, whether ebook or physical comes from the library. So regardless of format I don’t pay for most of my books. When I’m super excited for a book though, I make sure to get the physical copy, of course!

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  10. GAH this is hard because okay, if you ask me logically, I will be Team Chana. Because there are SO many benefits! I too read the book a LOT faster electronically. And it’s easier, takes up less space, doesn’t make my hand hurt, is less expensive, I could go on and on! BUT. For some reason, my hoarder self cannot stop owning as many books as I can? Even though I *like* reading ebooks better, I like OWNING physical copies a million times more. So I am hopelessly torn between practicality and OMG BOOKS. LOVE this post, fabulous as are all your debates!!

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    1. I’m the exact same! Ebooks are so convenient, and honestly I probably read the majority of my books that way, but I just LOVE owning books. It’s becoming a serious problem though 😂 I don’t have room in bookcase anymore and I’m just trying my best to keep my bookcase looking neat and pretty but it’s really not working out.

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  11. I prefer digital books and audiobooks when reading than physical now. But I definitely buy books and collect them.

    I have transitioned to 70% audiobooks and 29% ebooks and only 1% for physical books. I tend to read at night and having a light on is just not good for me. I use my kindle to read which does not have any distractions because it’s a dedicated reading device (no alerts). I had used the Kindle app to read on my iPad before and it was not as effective at keeping out distraction as the Kindle.

    I also drive to work Monday to Friday and listening to audiobooks help pass time. Since I also travel for work, I love bringing my Kindle because I have all the books! Otherwise, I would bring a minimum of 3 books with me just in case!

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