Editor’s Note: This article was last updated September 10, 2015.
While you’re browsing the electronic bookshelves of an online bookstore, you may be tempted to buying a lower-priced eBook over a physical copy. Before you buy either version though, it’s important to realize that there are definite advantages and disadvantages of each, you should always evaluate your own needs before deciding.
The following are some of the advantages of eBooks over physical titles:
- Travel. If you’re on the go a lot, you know how heavy regular titles are, particularly if you intend to finish one book while you are out and need to bring another book with you. eBooks allow you to bring a whole library with you wherever you go. You can switch between titles with ease and the weight is lighter than a standard paperback.
- Storage. Those who own a lot of books know how much space they can take up, but with a reader, your bookshelf is located on a small handheld device, your computer or on both. This will save you a lot of storage space and also means you have a backup online if something happens to your books.
- Price. eBooks are often cheaper in the long run because there are no printing fees associated with them. In fact, you can often find free eBooks online, whereas physical books almost always cost you something. You must remember however, that readers are not free, you are going to spend a good amount upfront for a device like this.
- Speed. When you buy an eBook, your reward is instantaneous. Whereas if you order a book online you have to wait for it to arrive before the fun begins.
- Font adjustments. With an eBook, you can instantly change the darkness of the lettering or the size of your font. When your eyes feel strained after reading a paper book too long, you have little choice but to stop reading. With an eBook, you can just change the font size and keep going. This is also a great feature for those who need large print books.
- Night reading. If you read in bed, an eBook may be a good option as many readers come with built-in reading lights. These are easy to use and won’t get in the way like the lights attached to actual books do.
Advantages of physical books over electronic titles:
- Resale value. Like music downloads, you’ll never actually be able to resell electronic books. If you are into collectable books, this is a particularly big problem and you should only use physical titles.
- Reading ease. This one is only really a benefit for those that would otherwise read eBooks on their computers or phones. If you buy a commercial eReader, it will probably use ink technology that will not hurt your eyes with backlight. Never the less, you don’t need to worry about this problem with a physical book.
- No devices needed. If you find yourself in a small town without your cell phone or computer, you won’t be able to download a new title for your eBook, but you can always stop by a local bookstore and pick up a new paperback.
- No batteries. While most readers have a good battery life, there will still be times where you forget to charge it and then can’t read at all. You’ll never have this problem with a standard book.
- No warranties needed. If your eReader breaks, you will have nothing to read until you receive a new one. Some devices let you read the titles you have saved on your computer, but it’s just something you’ll never have to worry about with a physical book. Best of all, if a book does get damaged to where you can't read it, you can just go to the bookstore and buy another copy, rather than worrying if it is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Tradition. Let’s face it; you’re never going to get that comforting smell of paper or the weight of a good book in your hands when you read an eBook. And while you can flip ahead in an eBook, you can’t do so in a matter of seconds and flip right back to your page.
As you can see, both types of books have many advantages; the decision is ultimately up to you. Some people find technology more convenient, while others find the weight and smell of books to be comforting. Whatever you decide, many of our top online bookstore sites, particularly Amazon.com and Borders, offer electronic downloads along with physical books, so you can be certain that all of your favorite titles will still be available.