Monday, December 16, 2013

Dead Tree Books vs. eBooks

I prefer reading a real book. I like the tactile relationship. My bookmark informs me of how much is left to read. The real book has value as a used book or as a donation.

A new book habit can be expensive. Perhaps the initial purchase of an ebook is less expensive than the new tree based book, but the ebook cannot be resold. A physical book can be traded or sold at a used book store to recoup some of that original purchase price. A real book is also a hazard for the full time RVer. A book is ballast.

Fortunately, the lending of ebooks from public libraries (via Overdrive apps) has reduced my annual costs of books. Like most of life, demand is what drives a market. Demand for my non-fiction preferred reading means selections are limited. (That is the situation at two libraries where I have access.) With a greater demand for fiction, there are more titles from which to choose.

Fiction is a good choice for an ebook. You start reading at page one and read to the end.

The downside to non-fiction ebooks are the references to other parts of the book with maps, photos, footnotes and appendices. An included link in the text sends you to the referenced item. However, my experience is that I don't get back to where I was reading. As a result, I have given up following references in ebooks. Maybe the software has gotten better, but I haven't checked recently.

Following a reference in a real book is not a problem. Just use a finger to bookmark where you were reading and head to the reference.

Fiction is good as an ebook; for non-fiction I prefer a tree based book.

Note: This post was a result of the Calvin and Hobbes strip of December 10, 2013. I have similar feelings about ebooks as Calvin's father.

I have often wondered how college texts work as an ebook. The answer is mixed according to Why College Students Prefer Print Over E-Books.


  1. Provocative thoughts. Hummm, will ponder my preference. Thanks for the stimulation.

  2. I prefer real books, and one of my lifetime dreams was to have a house with a library. But... life happens and I've sold all my books. I still have a few favorites in The Palms, but I have two Kindles, the original and a newer Kindle Fire - they are loaded with books, mostly free books I've downloaded. Nowadays I'm usually listening to a downloaded audio-book. I belong to two libraries and I have tons of books stored on thumb drives as well as a few on my laptop's Overdrive Media Console. I'll NEVER run out of books. Food for the soul and occasionally the brain. :)


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