The Printed Book vs E-book: Which Do You Prefer?

A couple weeks ago I was in Helsinki on family business (as in, my parents were visiting me in Estonia, and we stopped by Finland). My boyfriend is from there, so going to Helsinki once or twice a year is something of a habit. After all, it’s only a few hours away.


The fruits of my expedition (minus the French academic book)

Though I like the city — the seaside view, the market, the antiquity of some of the buildings — my favorite part of visiting is actually going to the bookstore. Why? Well, because then I can actually get physical books to read.

One of the things I somewhat regret about my move to Estonia is my reliance on my iPad for book access. There is a bookstore in Tartu, of course. And there is even a section that has books translated into English, but as you can imagine, the selection is more than lacking. So whenever I go to Helsinki, I always go to their big city bookstore and peruse for titles I’ve been holding off on buying in order to get them in print.

Despite the ease with which I can get books with just a simple iPad application and the internet, I miss having the actual book in hand. There’s just something about the smell of the pages. The way you can see them grow or lessen on either side of the cover as you make your way through it. More than once, I’ve cursed the fact that I don’t have certain titles on my bookshelf.

Alas, I am a happy camper. Although, I keep drawing out my read of Prince of Fools because I want the experience of having a physical book in my hand to last as long as possible. It’s the little things in life, right?

So what about you? Which do you prefer? Which do you read more: printed or e-books?


10 thoughts on “The Printed Book vs E-book: Which Do You Prefer?

  1. I’m happy with both. I’ve gone completely ebook these days. I just like having access to everything when I’m shopping for a book. So many of the independents won’t be in a bookstore.

    • You’re right. For those who are looking for the independents, ebooks are definitely the way to go. I’ve gotten more “adjusted” to reading ebooks, especially due to the convenience factor. But . . . well, I still miss my paperbacks. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  2. Without a shadow of a doubt, I want that physical book in my hands. Before I even read your post, I already had my reasons which aligned perfectly with yours. Although I thought I might have been a little on the weird side, I love the smell of the pages as you fan them, or turn from one page to the next. I am somewhat particular of the condition of my books also. I don’t crease the spine too far. I don’t earmark the pages. I keep it in pristine shape so that when I am done it is placed on my bookshelf as it came off the shelf at the bookstore.

    The other thing I absolutely love (and almost need) in a physical book is a sense for where I am in the story. How much of the plot remains based upon the heft of pages until the back cover is reached. I know that the e-readers have progress indicators, but for me, it’s just not the same.

    There is an advantage to being able to carry so many books with you on a single electronic device. However, I will never abandon my physical books. The weight of pages in different books, the fonts used, the coarse feeling of a hardcover novel, the velvety smooth cover of certain paperbacks, it’s all part of the experience for me and one I will never be able to give up 😉

    • I smell books in bookstores. I know I can’t be the only one who does this. I mean books smell so . . . bookish. 🙂 But yes, the fanning smell, and also how each book may even smell a little differently: like a little bit of history right there. I am picky about the condition, too, though perhaps not as picky as you are. Some of my books have been well loved, it seems. And if they were books for school, especially if they were books I was using for an academic paper, I would write my notes and thoughts in the margins. But I have a strange code for doing that: I would never write in most of my novels.

      Do you ever cringe when someone asks to borrow a book? I feel so selfish when I try to think of excuses not to share, but I’m like a dragon with them. Mine, mine, mine. Although, I did just lend my favorite book out to a friend (he got a return deadline though and death threats should anything happen to it), so maybe I’m improving?

      Thanks, as always, for leaving your insightful thoughts!

  3. I am a fan of the printed book, I like the feel of it and just the overall niceness of it 😀 But I mostly read ebooks, just for the convenience. I have limited space and the kindle keeps them all neatly together, without having to worry about where I’m going to stack the books.

    Also, carrying a light kindle around is much easier than lugging a book. And if I finish a book unexpectedly whilst out, I always have another ready to go on the kindle, where as I don’t if I take a printed book.

    • Oh, I can definitely understand your reasoning for using the kindle! I use my iPad (in addition to accessing fiction I can’t get here) to keep track of my academic materials: pdf documents I don’t want to have to print, scholarly articles and the like. It’s definitely spared me the pain of carrying around 10 pounds of books everywhere.

      Though if you finish a book and need another one, that’s always a great excuse to run away and hide in the bookstore. 😉

      Thanks for contributing your insight and thoughts on the matter! It’s always wonderful to know where other people stand!

  4. Depends on the situation for me. Like most avid readers and writers, I just adore the feel of a physical book in my hands. So much more organic and real to me. I always have a physical book in my purse to read on my lunch break or whenever I’m out and about and have a few minutes to spare. I feel as naked without a book as I do without my keys or phone!

    That being said, I love my Nook for reading late at night. I have one that is backlit and this is awesome for when I want to stay up reading and my husband wants to sleep. This is also awesome when we go camping or backpacking as I can read at night in the tent without having to drain the battery of my headlamp. 🙂

    Side note, loving your blog and looking forward to reading more! 🙂

    • Oi, I almost missed this comment! I’m so glad I didn’t. Sometimes my reader gets backlogged and I miss things (or I’m irresponsible and procrastinate responding and then forget, but don’t tell anyone I said that). It won’t happen again, promise! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I, too, love the feel of the pages. Organic, as you call it, is the perfect word. An organic reading experience. But I’ve heard similar split opinions about e-readers, too, due to their convenience. When you’re out in the woods at night, I can imagine the technology comes in handy. That said, I also sometimes read at night that way so I don’t disturb anyone, so I totally understand. Alas, there are pros and cons to everything.

      And to add to your side note, I’m loving your blog, too. Seeing all that poetry is like candy for my literary heart. 🙂

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