Print books or e-books?

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Since I was about 6 or 7 years old, my parents found that the easiest way to keep me quiet was to put a book in my hands. OK, so my love of books has meant that my fitness has suffered, but at that age I didn’t care.

A few years ago I bought my first e-reader. It was a Sony PRS-600, which I chose for a number of reasons, none of which are relevant here. Owning an e-reader gave me access to any book that was out of copyright, free of charge. That covered any English language classic. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare – all these and more were available to me. Eventually I succumbed to the lure of the Kindle and Amazon’s Deals which presented me with books for as little as 99p. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. I even started to replace some of my print books with e-book versions.

This brings me back to the question: ‘Print books or e-books?’ I appreciate that there are people who prefer the smell and feel of a print book. I still enjoy reading print books and will never completely replace my ‘library’ with e-books for several reasons:

  1. Cost. If I were to replace every book with a Kindle version it would cost thousands of pounds.
  2. Availability. Not all books are available on Kindle. I can click the ‘Ask for this book to be available on Kindle’ until I’m blue in the face. If an author doesn’t want their books to be available as e-books, it’s not going to happen. Similarly, if a publisher feels a book won’t sell as an e-book, they won’t produce it as one.
  3. Pictures. I have a number of books that are beautifully illustrated, either with photographs or with drawings. Many of these illustrations are in colour, Many of the books are large. The pictures just would not work on a 6 inch, black-and-white screen. I’m not sure they’d even work on a 10 inch tablet.
  4. Need. Thick paperbacks are hard for me to handle, but I have a lot of thinner ones that I have no trouble with. I don’t need to replace these, so I won’t bother.

Having said all that, I’m buying more e-books than print books these days. I’ve stopped asking for books as presents, unless the book is special in some way (pictures are the main thing). Again, I have a number of reasons for this:

  1. Space. Unless I win the lottery and am able to afford a huge house I’m going to run out of bookshelf space sooner or later. With my Kindle I only need space for that and I can have hundreds of books.
  2. Health. My hands are no longer strong enough to cope with books that are more than about 400 pages long, particularly in paperback. A Kindle is much easier to handle.
  3. Font size. I use reading glasses. Even so, there are times when my eyes get tired and certain print sizes are difficult. With a Kindle I can scale the font up and down to suit my needs.

In my opinion, it’s never going to be ‘either… or…’ when it comes to print books and e-books. Both are good, each fills a different need. I own both and always will.

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