ebooks-v-books1-217x300.jpgI saw this title a couple of days ago from NPR “Why The Battle Between E-Book and Print May Be Over”.

Before I listened to the segment, my initial reaction was: “Why are they even fighting?”

Is there really a battle between e-books and print? Is there a reason why people are constantly pitting one against the other? I like to live in a world where I see the benefits of both rather than the negatives of why one is better than the other.

I’m a reader of both. I prefer e-books for the ease of purchasing a book whenever I want. If I want to read the latest book from a specific author at 2 a.m. – it’s on my tablet in a matter of seconds. SECONDS!

However, if I want to keep a book for reference or a guide, the paper edition ends up on my shelf. Sometimes, I will borrow a print book from the library over an e-book because the wait time for an e-book can take longer based on the numbers of e-copies a library has.

To me, it’s never about battling, but about my circumstances of when and where I’m reading. I prefer reading e-books during my work commute and may read print books while at home.

Admittedly, once I clicked on the headline, the story itself didn’t actually lend to “battle being over.”

Here are a few excerpts from the segment:

Len Vlahos, co-owner of Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver:

VLAHOS: The most voracious readers are now – they’re really reading in multiformat. And I think it took a while for that to settle down. And I think now that it’s settling down, I think there is probably a little bit of relief just that it’s becoming a slightly more predictable market.

Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Marketplace, a widely read online industry newsletter.

MICHAEL CADER: If you read the publishers’ dollar sales are down, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people have turned their backs on e-books and they’re not reading them. It just means that the prices of what they’re paying for those e-books may have changed.

To listen or read the whole segment, click here.

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Editor. Writer. Social media specialist. Reader. Video game player. Sports lover. Card Collector. "I used to be a library junkie with books piled on my nightstand. I’d be constantly renewing books until I finished all of them. There had to be a way to escape the clutter. That’s when I discovered e-book apps for my old Blackberry. I bought plenty of books and read and read and read. I even developed what I called ‘Blackberry Eye,’ small wrinkles under my eyes from staring down at my phone all day."


  1. @Chris: Susan’s looking at this from a reader’s perspective. I’m all in favor of what works for her, as opposed to a dogmatic insistence on paper or electrons. No battle in her case.

    At the same time, yes, the long-term movement is toward the digital, and it’s perilous for writers, publishers and others to bank on paper being the main medium forever.

    My wife and sister vastly prefer E. They’re boomers with vision issues and others, and we’ll see many more like them.

    Loved your post on small print, by the way.

    My own thing is contrast rather than print size. On a good screen with a good font, I actually have fewer contrast problems with e-books than with old print books.


  2. At the level of the individual reader one “battle” is between those who think that a book has to have the look, smell and feel of paper vs. those who think that a book only has to present the author’s words in sequence.

    I have actually experienced this when a complete stranger looked at my ebook reader and said to me “That’s not a book!”

    In my opinion, this is a battle over the definition of a word, and humans seem to love to argue about definitions. Many years ago people listened to rock and roll and rejected it, saying “That’s not music!” Now you hear similar comments being made about rap music. Some people look at modern art and say “That’s not art!” And yes, some people consider that ebooks aren’t “real” books.

    I’m not a psychologist. I don’t know why people feel this way. Perhaps some social scientist has/will study the question and explain it to me.

  3. @Gary: Thanks. The glory of Susan’s approach is that it’s so pragmatic. On the train, she’s worries more about portability than about, say, the feel and smell. She isn’t wasting time fretting over definitions. As for why the debates go on, here’s my take. People consider the media they consume to be part of their respective personal identities. More than a few paper book-lovers may consider e-books to be a form of rejection of the people who venerate them. Susan has gone beyond. She values words, story and character more than the physical format or lack thereof. David

  4. The battle is between those invested in the legacy print profit machine (largely the tradpubs) and those invested in the ebook distribution system (Amazon, etc), not the readers.

    Had publishers invested in ebook systems earlier, they wouldn’t be in position of opposing the inevitable and trying to protect the obsolescing.

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