Now, this must be one of the most unexpectedly fierce debates in the literary world: which is better, e-books or print? The numbers are showing that sales of print books rose 2% in 2014, so maybe that’s some points for the fans of ink and paper, but I’m still torn between the two.
On the one hand, there’s no doubt that having a physical book in your hands is a real pleasure. The look, the feel and even the smell are worth the extra cost for a lot of readers. And owning a collection of your favourite books can be so fulfilling.
That said, I think lovers of tradition will often sing the praises of owning print books without thinking about the many practical benefits of e-books. For a start, they’re cheap. I’ve seen e-readers priced as low as £15 ($22) and with many books being sold at 99p or even given away for free, the market has opened up to customers who may not have been able to afford a great deal of reading material otherwise. You can add to this the fact that it’s a green choice thanks to saved paper, it makes publishing cheap and accessible to new authors and improves the portability of your books, in a world where many of us spend hours commuting on a train, carpool or bus daily. All of this makes a pretty strong case for the humble e-book.
But for me, the most obvious – and somehow always overlooked – benefit of ebooks is this: who has space in their house for a library of print books? I’m an avid reader, but I don’t have enough space to keep more than a couple of bookcases full of paper books in my home. Sure, you could give away or sell your books when you’ve finished reading them, but this completely takes away from the pleasure of having all of your favourites available to you when you want them.
So my personal solution has been this: I keep my bookcases stocked with physical copies of my favourite titles and the rest is tucked away on my lap-top in e-book form. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a whole library of print books to enjoy, but until I win the lottery, I’ll have to be content with this.
So, where do you stand on the argument?