Paper book or electronic book: it seems one of those never-ending debates, because both formats have their passionate lovers and their fierce detractors.
The one about the printed book versus the digital book seems to be one of those never-ending discussions. This is largely because each person has their own relationship with both media, their experiences and therefore a different emotional bond with each one. Those who grew up around paper books and magazines may find it difficult to get the same feeling from digital devices, but what about “digital natives” who are much more familiar with touch screens than with printed pages? Also read Sqribble Review.
A study published in 2010 – based on more than 70,000 cases from 27 different countries – found that growing up in a house with many books was a huge advantage for children in the future: they performed better in school and their academic careers lasted, on average, three years longer than those who grew up in houses without books. What will happen in the future, when there are many books in a house but they are intangible?
6% of people who read in Spain do so exclusively on digital media, according to the latest Barometer of Book Reading and Purchasing Habits. These “pure” digital readers constitute a new species: until the previous report there were none. Although this analysis does not only include books, but also magazines, newspapers, comics (not considered books for this work), websites, blogs and social networks, the emergence of this new category seems to be another sign of the unstoppable advance of the digital in the field of reading.
In fact, digital book sales in our country grew 14% in 2017 (the last year for which data has been published), above the worldwide growth, which was 11%. The latest Digital Book Annual Report, published by the company Libranda, assures that, among the great novelties, the electronic book represents “between 15% and 25%” of total sales.
The e-book and its advantages
This growth of the digital book is, of course, related to the advantages it offers compared to printed volumes. Among the main of these advantages are the following:
They take up less space. This is one of the benefits most valued by those who prefer the e-book. Even more so in times when it is fashionable to have a guru of order who advises not to have more than 30 books in the house.
They are more portable. The ebook is also an excellent alternative for those who go on a trip. Not only for long trips, for which a single book might not be enough, but also for short periods: it is not always possible to know what we will feel like reading when we are at our destination.
More comfortable to read long books. This aspect is related to the previous one, but it is not the same. Anyone who has read War and Peace, Les Misérables, David Copperfield and other voluminous works knows about the work of holding in one’s hands, for a long time, two kilos of paper. The digital format also makes it easier in this respect.
It allows you to adapt the size of the letter. Another benefit that is highly valued, especially by older people. The option of enlarging the font to see it better can be the difference between reading and not reading a book.
Built-in accessories. Many devices for digital reading have their own lighting, so they can be read virtually anywhere: there is no bus, no tent, and no night whose darkness prevents it. They also often include programs such as dictionaries and translators, so that no word is an obstacle.
They can be read “in the cloud”. This way, if you have the appropriate devices, it is possible to start reading in an e-reader and continue it, for example, on your mobile phone.
Books are easier to obtain. There are books on paper that are almost impossible to find, because they were published a long time ago and are out of print or out of print. In many cases, the digital format has come to solve this problem and you can read on the screen works that are otherwise literally impossible.
Easier to acquire. Buying digital books is very simple: you connect to the Internet from anywhere and the book is yours in a matter of seconds. It’s a special resource for the eager, saving you the days and even weeks it can take to ship a book from abroad.
Cheaper. Books in digital format are cheaper than paper ones. Even more so when compared to the cost of shipping printed volumes, particularly, as in the previous paragraph, when it comes to works published in other countries. In any case, as the Reading Habits Barometer indicates, free downloading is still the most common method of obtaining digital books.
Recommendations. Depending on what a person reads, the digital device itself suggests new readings, thanks to an algorithm that analyzes the favorite books of users with similar tastes.
Not only books. E-readers are not only for reading books: they are also for reading all kinds of writings. This is a great advantage for reading documents of all kinds (academic, work, literary manuscripts, etc.) that are too long -and uncomfortable- to read from the computer screen, without the need to print them.
No need to cut down trees. In 2003, J. K. Rowling took the lead in a campaign to take care of the planet’s forests, when he learned that the Harry Potter books published so far had required the felling of 6.5 million trees. Since then, all editions of the saga have been printed on recycled paper. The circulation of e-books, however, does not require the felling of any trees.
Know why: Ebooks are better than paper books.
The advantages of paper
On the other side are, of course, the advantages of paper books. Advantages that, for your lovers, are invincible, unsurpassable. They can be summarized as follows:
The emotional aspect. As already mentioned, for those who grew up reading paper books, the characteristics of that experience have a determining weight. The book is not only a text, but -above all- an object. To read it is also to see how it wears out and ages over time, and it is to know a particular design, and a typography, even some typos and mistakes that make each copy unique.
They never fail. A paper book will never run out of battery, or turn off or stop working for unknown reasons, or require the assistance of a technical service, or be impossible to read again due to incompatibility of formats or obsolescence of operating systems.
They can be given away and lent out. A single copy can be read by many people without causing any problems or doing anything illegal. The design of e-books, however, generally includes many obstacles to prevent the circulation of an archive among different users, and it is not yet clear what, if any, the regime for e-book lending in public libraries will look like.
More and better is remembered. Many studies have found that texts read on paper are more memorable than those read from a digital screen. In addition, paper-based texts also contribute to readers’ comprehension and concentration (partly because they do not include hypertext, interactive or multimedia content). One paper even states that “the brain prefers paper”. Of course, all these works have been done on people who read printed texts in their first years of life. Perhaps for digital natives these differences between the two forms of reading do not exist.
Not all books are digitized. Just as there are books that are much easier to obtain in electronic format than in print, with others it is the opposite, simply because they are not digitized. In those cases, having an e-reader will not help much, since whoever wants to read it will have no choice but to go to paper.
They do not generate technological garbage. It’s true that producing books requires felling trees, but these are a renewable resource “as long as the forests and plantations are well managed,” according to a Greenpeace document. Furthermore, paper books that end up in the trash biodegrade much more easily and quickly than plastics and chemicals in electronic devices.
They make up a library. For many reading enthusiasts, few places are as enjoyable as a library, whether public or private. Walking through it, getting lost in it, taking one book and another, browsing through them, is a much richer experience than going through a catalogue of digital files and opening some of them to read a few lines. Walks like these often lead to discovering works or authors that would not otherwise have been reached and whose reading brings long hours of happiness.