Paper Books vs. Digital Books: Which Side Are You On?

When digital books first came out, there was a big uproar. People kept saying that e-books would completely wipe out print copies, and soon everyone would have to have kindles or nooks if they want to read. People still say that to some extent, but the panic of it has dwindled since it’s been a decade or so since kindles first came out, and we still have printed books. While I assume that’s partially because it takes time for big business changes like that, it’s also true that many people still prefer a paper book to a digital one.

I have met very few readers who have gotten rid of all their paper books in favor of having digital only. Or even readers who only buy digital now. In fact, many people I know who have e-books (and like them) still prefer paper copies. For example, I tend to use e-books when I’m traveling or when I don’t have the patience to wait for shipping (or the energy to go to the store). If I’m at home, however, I prefer a paperback or hardback to reading on a device. Most of my friends and family feel the same way. E-books have practical applications, but we still want printed books.

Is that because of how we grew up? Since we grew up reading printed books, do we have a greater emotional attachment to that medium? Or is it like colors and decor where some mediums subconsciously appeal to a broader audience as being warmer and more comforting?

So far, the only people who have told me they prefer e-books all the time are teenagers – people who grew up with more technology and less paper. That seems to back up the how-we-grew-up theory. At the same time, some of the teenagers said that hey hate e-books and want paper copies (and others say they hate reading. Period.).

Does that mean that reading preferences are like drinking coffee versus tea? Or right brain versus left brain? That even within similar generation and experiences, some people are more inclined to like paper books while others are more inclined to like e-books?

What do you think – is it nature or nurture?


  1. […] love paper books. On the other hand, having both paper and electronic books have made reading more portable than […]

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