This is a story of struggle, love and hate, but it’s not a movie. Instead, it’s a post about my love-hate relationship with digital versus print books. I think readers who like reading both print and e-books could understand what I am talking about. There is a constant tension, even a fight, between each book type and the pros and cons they have. I personally tend to read print books, though when it’s dark and there is no good lighting available there is nothing like reading an e-book.
Well, that’s the main point, these two kinds of books are not contradictory, but could be viewed as a complementary solutions. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but when combining advantages of both print and e-books we got the best out of all worlds.
Print books advantages as I see them
As biological agents living in a physical world we tend to like things that we can touch, hold and feel. So it’s not a big surprise that physical print books are so appealing to us. The book having a good and colorful cover draws attention and has a seductive forces to it. You can take it, flip through it quickly. Check whether are there any good diagrams, or pictures. Jump to the end of the book to check how it ends. In addition, the books have a smell to them and their weight provides a reassurance that knowledge could be a real force in the world.
- I value the most the flipping part and fast navigation through the print books.
Well what are the disadvantages?
Print books, being physical objects take a lot of space, which could be an issue and storing them requires a book shelf or shelves. If you happen to travel or simply wants to take a few books with you to read on the go, then you’d better be in a good physical shape and have a big suitcase, which is kind of problematic to say the least (I mean the suitcase).
Also, print books are usually cost more then their digital counterparts, so buying them isn’t cheap. But both digital and print books could be rented or borrowed in the library making them less expensive as a product.
With a print book you need a good lighting, good weather conditions, preferably without pouring rain, when you outside, and a table with a chair. Non of this is required for digital books, for example, when reading on a mobile phone.
E-books advantages as I see them
E-books are cost effective, take almost no physical space, except for the container where they reside as bytes in memory. Nowadays, they can be read on a dedicated devices, computers, mobile phones. The e-books themselves could be stored locally or read in the cloud. There are a number of good mobile phone applications and dedicated websites that provide a reader with conveniences of reading, searching, translating and highlighting the content of the digital books. When the time comes to move around, you can carry almost unlimited number of e-books, limited by the memory space you have on you device (or a remote server). All in all, the e-books sound like a clear winner in the print versus digital books fight.
- I value the most reading in the dark, searching and translating capabilities.
Though, e-books could be read in complete darkness, it points out that the device that they are stored in requires electricity, hence a battery that should be charged. When the battery is empty good bye. Nowadays, reading a digital book requires downloading it from a cloud storage locally, which means there is a need in an internet connection, which too could be interrupted. In addition, since digital books are presented in strictly two dimensional format it is impossible to flip through them like could be done with a print book, and jumping back and forth quickly is also hardly possible, if at all. But searching them for a particular word or phrase, or translating content is a charm in comparison to print counterparts (strictly speaking it’s an advantage, ops). In addition, when you try reading and working with the content from a number of books in parallel (which happens to me) all you need is a regular table. To achieve the same feat with an e-book you need a big size monitor, and I mean really big.
Unless there will be invented a hybrid of a print and e-book, that would require almost no electricity (or would have a long lasting battery) and could be flipped in 3D space (say like a hologram), we are destined to use both approaches depending on circumstances where the reading process should take place.
- One side note I forgot to mention, we have physical books (scrolls) that survived for thousands of years, but our electronic devices that store e-books definitely would not.