The Great Debate: E-Books vs Paper Books

In the battle for ultimate reading-format supremacy, which side will you choose?

I took the time to interview 4 students at the University of New South Wales, Bethany, Isobel, Victoria and Vesna, each of whom gave similar responses – that they prefer paper books, but can see a number of benefits of e-books and e-readers. So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of e-books and paper books!


1) E-books are more accessible

E-readers are lightweight and portable. You can literally carry some of them around in your back pocket (ie your phone). Paperbacks, on the other hand, can be heavy and bulky and difficult to carry around. And if you’re like me and you prefer to keep your books in tip-top condition, you don’t really want to carry paper books around in a bag that will cause them to become tattered and wrecked.

Bethany: “I have a family friend who’s a librarian, and she has a Kindle just because she is able to read so many books so quickly, that it costs too much money for her to buy all them all as paperbacks, and it’s too hard for her to carry them all around, but if she’s just at home she’ll prefer to read a paperback.”

Victoria: “My dad is a university professor and he would spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on huge, heavy textbooks, but now he prefers to get the e-book version wherever he can because they are cheaper and way more convenient to carry around.”

Vesna: “Its nice to have like 5 books on my phone, whereas carrying 5 books would be really annoying.”

2) E-books are cheaper than Paperbacks

There is a marked price difference between the cost of a paper book and an e-book. For instance, the e-book version of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon is only $10 on Amazon, but the physical book is double that price ($19.99) as a paperback at Dymocks.

Victoria: “If it’s just a book I’m only going to read once, I’ll buy it cheaply as an ebook, but if it’s a book I’m going to cherish and love forever of course I’ll spend the money on the physical version of it.”

3) E-books are more private 

This benefit was broad to my attention by Katie Wakeman. If you’re a person who prefers privacy when you read, or you feel so guilty or embarrassed by something you’re reading that you don’t want to read it in public (not that you should feel embarrassed), then e-books afford a whole new level of privacy that paper books don’t.

4) E-books “hurt my eyes”

Some people find it difficult to read off of a screen. I know for me, I find it incredibly hard to absorb information if I’m reading it off of a computer screen, and I become more immersed in a story if I’m reading it off a page instead.

Isobel: “Screens make my eyes sore!”

Bethany: “I have trouble absorbing information through a computer screen, so with uni readings I have to always print them out and read them and highlight, or else I won’t understand what it is I’m actually reading.”

Vesna: “I get a headache from e-books, but not only that, I find it annoying how, at least with my e-reader, they tell you how many pages you have left on the chapter and how many minutes it’ll take you to read it, so I feel like it becomes like a competition for me to finish – it’s just nicer to have a paper book!”

5) The feeling of a paper book is difficult to beat

Personally, I have always been 100% in favour of physical books, pretty much solely for this reason. For me, the experience of reading off a screen does not even come close to comparing to the sensations you experience whilst immersed in the pages of a paperback.

Bethany: “I prefer paper books because it’s a rare opportunity to have something real and tangible, because of the smell and the feel of reading, and you don’t get that with an e-book.”

What about you? Do you prefer e-books or paper books? Let us know and why by commenting below!

Happy Reading! x


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