Ebook reader or paper book: which is better?

I read an Internet article that attempted to debunk the arguments favoring buying an ebook reader: saving money, convenience (books are too heavy), saving the environment, and instant gratification.

Moneyland on Time.com conceded that an ereader does offer instant gratification because you receive your books right away, but took issue with the other points. I’d like to weigh in on those issues.

Do ebooks save money? From my experience…it depends on what you buy, where you buy it and when (kind of like everything else!). If you insist on a new release by a big name author from a big name publisher whose focus is still on print rather than electronic books, then you might not save a lot of money with an ebook over a paper version. And you most likely won’t if you wait to buy your paper copy until you can pick it up used for a 1 cent plus $3.99 shipping on Amazon.

But: if you read genre fiction published by companies who primarily produce ebooks, you’ll save considerable money. For instance, the anthology, Spanked!, which contains my two stories Secret Desires and Intimate Submission, has a print cover price of $10.95 and an ebook price of $5.99. That’s a significant difference. I’ve had my Kindle for a year and since January, I’ve purchased twenty-six ebooks from Amazon.com at a total cost of $101.53, which averages out to $3.90 per book, comparable (a little cheaper than) Amazon’s used 1 cent + shipping price. The most I paid for an ebook was $6.99 and I purchased several for 99 cents. Not counted in this equation are the books I got for free through contests and promotions.

Are ebooks better for the environment? Moneyland says probably not because the obsolete ones will eventually clog the landfills. Methinks we ought to worry more about all the televisions, refrigerators, microwaves, and computers in the landfills than ereaders. And while an ereader might arguably take as much energy to produce as 40 or 50 books as the article claims, a Kindle holds about 1,000 books. And while you can “save the carbon footprint” by buying used and loaning print books, eventually they fall apart and where do you think most of them go then? To the big library in the sky? And what about the print books that are remaindered? I’ll go with the Moneyland conclusion that it’s probably a wash, but unlike Moneyland, I’m leaning toward ebooks.

Are ebooks more convenient, easier to carry than print? If you only carry one paperback book, no. It’s a wash. But, if you carry several books, then you betcha! I carried fifteen books on my Kindle during a month-long transatlantic cruise. I couldn’t have packed that many books in my suitcase. And eventually, as more people build their libraries on their Kindles or Nooks, it will save shelf space and back strain. If you have a large library and you’ve had to move, you know what I mean.

Furthermore ereaders offer privacy that print books don’t because you’re not flashing the cover and title of what you’re reading. The article also mentioned that paperback books don’t have batteries than go out during a long airline flight. My Kindle battery lasts about two weeks. If it’s fully charged when I board a plane, it doesn’t matter how long the flight is, it’s not going to run out.

Just as we couldn’t imagine getting along without personal computers and cellular phones today, I predict that soon we’ll wonder how we ever got along without ereaders. But there will always be a few diehards who say you can have their paperback when you pry it from their dead bloody hands. That’s okay. There’s probably somebody out there playing a 33 on a phonograph. Maybe even a 78.

To read the Moneyland article, click here.

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1 Response to Ebook reader or paper book: which is better?

  1. Yep – you’ll have to pry the paperback from my dead hands! LOL I agree that you can carry more books on an ereader, but I still love a book in my hands and visit bookstores often. I’d love to see my first novels in both ebook and print – I’m greedy that way! 😉

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