ebooks-v-books[1]Which is better, books or e-books? The debate will probably never die, but it can be interesting to watch people rehash the arguments. Blogging site Helium has a “debate” featuring two articles from people who favor e-books, and two from people who favor paper.

The first e-book lover, Christy Birmingham, has a well-organized list of the advantages of e-books: they grow with technological innovations, make better use of space, are good for travel, and better for the environment. The second, Destiny Song, also talks about environmental and convenience benefits.

For the paper book side, the arguments are a little less well-reasoned. Wayne Leon Lermond argues that books are awesome, because, well, they’re books. They’ve “stood the test of time” and too many people love them. (I’m sure that the horse and buggy had also “stood the test of time” when that new-fangled automobile was invented.) Lily Beaumont at least has some better arguments, citing a study that suggests reading from computers and e-readers is more distracting than reading from paper.

Neither of those pro-book people mentioned many of the concrete, non-sentiment-driven areas books excel over e-books—they’re cheap (compared to the cost of an e-reader), they don’t require special equipment or battery power to read, and they don’t put you out a fortune if you drop them in the tub.

Regardless, there’s a place in the future for both books and e-books, just as there’s still a place for horses and buggies now. (There’s a carriage ride service that runs around Park Central Square here in Springfield in the evenings, in fact.) I’m looking forward to seeing that future hurry up and get here.


  1. Print books may be given as personalized, signed gifts. They can be leatherbound special editions. Some photo books demand a huge presentation. Books are easier to get autographed. Books are, sadly, easier to pass around your family members once you’re finished. Ebooks will not be a part of your estate, unless the publishers finally dump DRM.

  2. I now use e-books because they take up less space (I recently donated 10 file boxes of novels, self-help, and textbooks to a charity) and I can increase the font size so I don’t kill my eyes reading tiny print.

    The feel of the “book” is irrelevant. It’s the feel of the story that matters. So I’m going to side with the story as to which is better.

  3. My ebooks will certainly be a part of my estate, since I have spent many hundreds of hours scanning them in; and my heirs will damn well read them, too, or I’ll want to know the reason why.

    But seriously, since eBooks are currently about ten years behind eMusic, I predict that by 2022 we will all have subscription-based access to a substantial proportion of all the books ever written.

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