In this two-part discussion, I break down why I’m breaking up with eBooks today, and tomorrow I explore eBooks vs paper books – the facts.
For as long as I’ve had this book blog, I’ve wanted to weigh in on the eternal debate – eBook or physical book? There have been so many slants to this topic, so many avenues to explore. This Book Geek has been in a perpetually indecisive eBook funk for as long as I can remember, and now, I’ve finally come to a decision.
When eReaders first came on the scene, I was a firm non-believer. I thought they were sacrilege, and I didn’t want them to take off. I enjoyed the physicality of a book, and I just didn’t think an eReader would be a suitable substitute. I was also petrified that books as we knew (and loved) them, were going to change forever.
Skip ahead a couple of years and I got my hands on a smartphone. I downloaded the Amazon Kindle App, and even though I rarely used it, I picked up the odd cheap (or even free) eBook. They sat on my digital shelves gathering digital dust, only surfacing during a particularly long wait at my GPs office.
By 2013, I still wasn’t reading eBooks, but with the release of various Kindles I was becoming a little more intrigued, and wondered if a dedicated device would make for a better reading experience. Nook, owned by Barnes and Noble, released the Nook Simple Touch in the UK for £29, and I decided to take the plunge. If I hated it, at least it hadn’t cost me a fortune.
I read one book on it. As a reading experience, it was enjoyable enough, but it just never grabbed me. I kept it in a drawer, thinking it may come in useful someday, for holidays and whatnot. I was surprised when I recently received an email informing me that Nook were pulling out of the UK, and that as a customer, I was being migrated to Sainsbury’s (?!). I went through the registration process, but have yet to turn on my Nook to see if it still works.
In 2014, Confessions of a Book Geek was born, and I was introduced to NetGalley, and the wonder of Advanced Reader Copies that I could download to read and review! I did what everyone new to NetGalley does. I downloaded a ton of eBooks. I read these on the Kindle App, either on my tablet or my phone. It worked OK for a little while, but I had to read physical books in between eBooks. I craved the weight of a physical book, and the scent of paper.
Meanwhile, my physical TBR pile was growing substantially, and I wanted to read more back-list titles. eBooks were being overshadowed, and when it was time for me to pick up a new book, I always went for a physical one. Then, in 2016, I started to receive physical books to review from publishers, at which point eBooks became pretty much redundant for me. But, all of these still aren’t the major reasons why I’ll never convert to eBooks…
While usually cheaper than physical books, eBooks aren’t priced according to how much they cost to make. Publishers price them higher than this, so they aren’t too attractive in comparison to print books, or else the bottom could just fall out of the print market. The cost of eBooks was always off-putting to me, especially when it dawned on me that you never own the book. You can’t lend it, sell it, donate it, or destroy it, even though you “bought” it. That’s because you really “rent” it. A technicality, maybe, but I think Amazon and all other eBook retailers should have to say “rent now”, or “license now”, as opposed to “buy now”, because it’s very misleading.
Access to your digital library can be suspended at any time, and books you have “purchased” can even be removed from your digital library permanently. You can’t sell the books themselves, nor the license to access the book, so you have no way to recover any of the “value” of your collection. Digital books should really be consumed as a subscription service with a monthly access fee, as opposed to the false pretence of “ownership” of individual eBooks. A slightly morbid point to make, but a valid one, is that you can’t give/bequeath your book collection to anyone should you kick the bucket (die…). For those of us with substantial collections, that to an extent represent us as individuals, I think this is a significant point to make. So that eBook collection worth a small fortune, goes nowhere and does nothing after you’ve shuffled off the mortal coil. Excellent.
The general population may not agree with my next point, but as a Book Geek I think I can safely say that we all take pride in our personal library and collection. Our books are a form of decoration. Often an outward expression of us as individuals. You can’t really invite a friend to your home, and sit down with a cup of coffee and your Kindle between you as an ambience-creator and conversation starter now, can you?
Just For Fun!
Where do you stand on the long-running debate of eBook versus physical book? Which do you prefer/own most of? Are you an eBook convert after a long time of refusing they exist? Or are you a physical book lover through and through who will never bow to eBooks? Let me know in the comments!
When I was given a Kindle as a surprise gift back in 2010, I had to feign a certain degree of gratitude, quietly thinking I’d have preferred some paperbacks. But I became a convert quite quickly – I love the convenience and lightness of my kindle (and the whispersync meaning I never lose my page and can carry on reading on my phone when out and about with a spare few minutes).
I totally agree with the pricing concerns though. I never buy an ebook unless it is at least 50% cheaper than the print copy. I wouldn’t consider it renting though – it is not time limited. It’s spine will never get bent, the pages never fray. It has been great for discovering some indie titles as well, as long as you’re willing to abandon them early on if they suck – but Amazon’s refund policy has made that ideal. Also, after my 4th bookcase was filled, I really had to consider the physical problem of storing my library. Ebooks solved that too.
I’m a total ebook convert. I may even buy some of my favourite old paperbacks in ebook format, in preparation of donating my physical library to a charity…. 😮
Haha! I love that expression, that you had to feign gratitude! Yes, the developments in eReader technology and service, especially from Amazon, has been very impressive, and I can see how it can be of massive benefit in certain cases. If I travelled or commuted more for work, or took more holidays, for example, I can definitely see how I could be convinced to read more eBooks.
I love a book bargain at the best of times, but I really can’t stomach paying high prices for eBooks, let alone the price of some of them even when they are “discounted”. I suppose “license” is a better phrase than “rent”, but in essence that is the structure of the agreement as they (the service provider) can temporarily or permanently remove it from your device, and the majority of eBooks only work within the zones they were bought in, and you never actually “own” anything, in a physical or digital sense.
What is Amazon’s refund Policy? I’ve never heard of this before! Also, when it comes to Amazon and indie authors, I suppose we need to take into consideration too the ethics of the eBook business. I’d heard self-published authors (perhaps all authors) used to be paid a royalty per download, and now they are paid per page of the work the reader completes? With Amazon dominating the marketplace, they do have a lot more control and power than many would like, and with digital being such a young business concept still, I guess there’s a lot to figure out, but sometimes I find the premise unsettling.
Yes – I can imagine for big book collectors the convenience of having so many books at your fingertips and not stacked in every nook and cranny is a major benefit (even if I secretly like being surrounded by piles of books!). Are you planning to donate your entire physical library?! Oh, please reconsider! My Book Geek heart just cracked in two at the thought!! R xx
If you ask for a refund on an ebook within 7 (or maybe 14?) days, Amazon will give it do it. As a (self-published) author, I would probably prefer it to be along the lines of, if the refund is requested within 7 days AND they’ve read less than 50%, then it should be granted, but I’ve never actually had one of my books returned sooooo… whatever. Other than that, how authors are paid is dependent on how the user is reading. If they ‘buy’ (licence) the ebook, the author gets a set royalty. If the reader is reading it ‘for free’ through kindle-unlimited or kindle-lending-library, then the author gets paid based on how many pages are read. Personally, I think this is an excellent model.
As for donating my physical library…. not sure. My bookshelves got relegated to the loft when I had kids, and they sit quite contently up there. But if we were to move house, I’m not sure they’d make the cut (well some might – those out of print, at least) – I’m not particularly sentimental over stuff.
Wow, really? Do you have to give a reason? Or is there a limit on how often you can ask for a refund? As I’m pretty sure you could read a book in 7 days and then “give it back”. At least with a physical book you can tell if the person has read it or not when they return it (unless they’ve been SUPER careful!). I’m far too sentimental over my books, think “my precious” and you get the idea! R xx
Great discussion post. 😉 You know my love for eBooks. It’s all I read. For me, it’s the convenience and the ability to multitask. I used to be totally anti-Kindle and then my husband bought me one for Christmas the year I had Sunnie. I hadn’t been able to read for MONTHS because holding a physical book while trying to do other things was difficult.
That Kindle was a game changer for me. I was able to read and hold my baby. It made it easier for me to read on the go. And now being able to get advanced copies on Netgalley right to my Kindle is a major perk. I still buy physical books for my shelves. I just buy them after I’ve read them in eBook form and they become favorite-must-have books. That has saved me money and my bank account thanks me. I don’t mind the price for eBooks on Amazon at all. I can justify it a lot more than the hard copy or paperback copies, especially if it’s a book I have NO idea I will like.
I get your point and it’s readers like yourself that keep the bookstores in business, and I’m thankful for you. We need people who still love physical books. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll tire of reading eBooks and go back to old school. 😉
I do know of your love for eBooks and was really looking forward to your comment! 😀
Were you as big a reader before the eReader came on the scene? Or did the eReader make you read more too? Obviously blogging turns us all from “big readers” to “insane readers”, but I wonder did the eReader play a part before blogging did?
I loved the idea of NetGalley when I first started blogging, but it was a drag for me to have to read eBooks, so the novelty wore off pretty quickly! Lol I do love that you buy your must-haves for your shelves though, even though you don’t get around to rereading many of them, at least you have a lustfull collection to fawn over 🙂 As I grew up, matured, and looked at the industry differently, and as I researched it for the second part of this discussion, it has made me want to continue to support physical books, and make a little more effort to support physical stores. Part of my justification for my physical reads is the fact I get so many of them from discount book stores or charity shops, but I treated myself to a couple of books from a physical bookstore recently (still not full RRP, I just can’t), and I loved the experience. The book seller remembered me at my second visit and asked if I enjoyed the book I bought the first time, remembering its title. It was a lovely feeling of connection with someone IRL. So much so, that the bookstore are currently hiring part-time, and I was sorely tempted to apply. I think it would be therapeutic lol, but I don’t think I could justify or cope with working two jobs at the minute! Nice idea though.
Thanks for commenting, B! Keep an eye out for part 2!
Also – I see you’ve read the new Hoover already, what’s your verdict?? Think I’ll like it?? R xx
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That’s why I need anti-eBook readers like you in the world. Because when I retire, I’m going to work part time at a bookstore. lol! 😉
I was a big reader before I got my Kindle, but that was also before I had a child. My Kindle has allowed me to be mommy, but also still enjoy my hobby. And it has helped me to be a faster reader. For whatever reason I can read a lot faster on the Kindle; therefore I can read a lot more books in a year. It has had a lot of benefits and that’s why I love it. 🙂
It’s her best book by far. It is extremely personal and heartbreaking – but I loved it so much. I think you will like it. If anything, it will be an eye-opening read. xx
Lol! I will gladly try to keep the paper books alive until you retire! 😉
I just found out my pre-order from The Book Depository hasn’t shipped yet, and may not be fulfilled for ages, as they have no stock!!! I think I’ll cancel it and order it from Amazon instead. This is the second time this has happened to me with TBD and Hoover. Argh!!! R xx
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I definitely stand with physical books!! I read the occasional ebook if it’s a really good price, but I honestly think they’re more of a hassle to read. I’m so used to carrying around a book wherever I go, but I never think to bring my ipad, which is what I would use as an ereader. Besides, I hate the feeling of staring at a screen for that long on top of whatever time I spend looking at my phone or computer that day. All in all, physical books are the way to go! 🙂
Yay!! I read the odd eBook too, but they’re few and far between, in fact, I don’t think I’ve read any this year so far. I usually don’t enjoy them as much. I do think they have their purpose, and I won’t not read one if I’m stuck (usually on my phone to pass the time if I need to), but I don’t get into them in the same way at all. Very valid point about the screen-time too, so much of our lives are digital and online now, I guess reading a paper book is almost vintage or retro! Lol The next part of my discussion breaks down the industry statistics and talks a bit more about how you never truly own an eBook, which was game changing information for me! R xx
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Huh. I never looked at it the way you mentioned how you can’t sell it or loan it. However, with some kindle books you can loan them to people.
Lately, I’ve been reading more physical books but I find I read faster on my ereader. haha
I never thought of it either until I stumbled upon a couple of articles where family members have died and their children have written to Amazon/Apple etc. and asked if they can have access to the family member’s library. If books are a big part of your life, you could see why children would find comfort from the books their parents read. Though again, I’d rather have the physical book they held, than the eBook they read.
What is the deal with Amazon allowing loans? Is it something like one book a month you can “lend” to someone? I think I read that somewhere. It’s more trying to reclaim the value. There’s literally nothing you can do to get that money back, or to donate it to charity by giving books into a charity shop. It just feels too impersonal, too far removed, and too controlled for me, I think. The more I read into it, the more… uncomfortable it makes me. That, and as a reading experience I don’t enjoy it as much, though I do think I read quicker on an eReader as well! Lol R xx
I got one of the first Kindles for Christmas in 2012. I was slow to get into it and figure it out, but it has quickly become my go-to because I am on the go so much and prefer to live in the dark. 🙂 (I convince myself this is how I have such low energy bills.) While my Kindle hasn’t replaced reading physical books, I am less inclined to pick one up, so my bookcase is overflowing with books to read. I agree 100% about ebook pricing, and I never buy an ebook full price. In fact, I rarely do. Between NetGalley, authors/agents, and free books I stay well stocked. After a while I figured out the books I had “bought” could disappear from my Kindle, and I think that is unethical. I understand if an edited copy is released and it pushes to your device to replace the original, but the entire point you’ve brought up about it being a temporary loan to license is right.
I’ve never owned a Kindle, but I don’t think owning one would make me read eBooks more, as I read eBooks using the Kindle app anyways. Interestingly, I have quite a few eBooks to read, but I’m always more inclined to pick up a physical book. Luckily, you have your eBook sources sussed, but I do know some people who pay (what I think is) silly money for eBooks, and the fact they can be removed from your library at any time just doesn’t sit right with me, but I’m also aware I sound like a bit of a techno-phobe when I talk like this too, and that the world is moving forward into the digital age, but I do think and hope that literature is an anomaly and that the physical form will hold out. R xx
I still love the idea of physical books (my first novel was just published and I can’t get enough of looking at that paperback) but I love my Kindle, too. I’m over 50 and my physical bookshelves are full! If I want to commit to a series in physical form, I’d have to clear a lot of space, but on an ereader, I can happily pile them up. Or read a big fat tome without hurting myself. My husband and I share our Kindle libraries, so we could in theory read the same book at the same time. Many of my friends are indie writers; I’m more likely to try out a new author or collect all the works of someone I like in ebook form. We can also share our ARC ebooks without the cost of shipping. The pricing thing from the big publishers is irritating, I agree. Maybe I’m aging out of feeling attached to stuff — I’m not that into vinyl, either.
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Congratulations on your debut!
eBooks are a great way for indies to get out there, and eBooks definitely have their perks in terms of saving space. I’m close to filling my bookcases too, so I need to cull my collection every now and then. I tend to hold on to 3* reads because I can’t bear to part with books in case I’ll want to revisit them in the future, but I’m unlikely to reread a 3* read. It really is a conundrum! R xx
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[…] at Confessions of a Book Geek two discussions on eBooks this week: eBooks vs paperbacks, the facts and Why she is breaking up with […]
I like how you put the poll on here so that we can vote and see the results too. I like both, a good mix of the two work well for me. I like how I can put my ebooks on speaker phone, so I can listen while driving or whatever. But also I love my bookcase of real books too.
Hi Amanda, thanks for commenting! I thought for those who don’t want to comment the poll would be a handy bit of research to see what the general consensus is, though I hope anyone who comments votes too! The majority seem to like a mixture so far! R xx
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Will be interesting to see the final outcome.
This is really interesting read for me. I used to read a whole lot more ebooks than physical books simply because they were cheaper, you get a lot more deals on them, and they are easier to carry around with me. It’s only recently that I’ve started buying more physical books because you’re right, they look nicer, they feel nicer, they smell nicer and it’s satisfying to see my collection on the shelves.
I don’t think I can ever give up ebooks, I like romance but some of those covers are embarrassing and when I go away I don’t wnt to have to bring an extra suitcase for all my reading material.
I think your reasons for giving up ebooks and instead supporting print books is sound. It’s very reasonable and I can get behind your points but I just can’t do it. I like my Kindle a bit too much to abandon it. Sure, some weeks it may be left on a shelf gathering dust, but then some weeks it hardly leaves my hand as I work my way through my little digital library. I may not own those books but they are at my fingertips. I also prefer reading ebook versions of ARCs in some ways because I can highlight quotes and add notes to it. I can do that with a physical copy but it’s not quite as easy to browse later… that and I’m not a huge fan of defacing my books. I just can’t do it.
Great discussion, it’s nice to see someone offering some new thoughts into a long debated topic.
Yep – I went through a phase of reading a few eBooks because they were review copies, but now I read either books I’ve bought myself, or physical review copies, I really don’t do eBooks unless there’s a specific reason to (travelling, or stuck somewhere waiting with nothing to do so I start an eBook), and I love adding to, rearranging and culling my collection. Though the culling doesn’t happen as often as it probably should!
Haha – yes eBooks do help romance readers as there’s no embarrassing covers to worry about, I forgot to include that perk!
Ahhh. I forgot to add that bit too – when I was reviewing eARCs, the note and highlight function made writing reviews SO much easier. Though I have started trying to remember to make notes on my phone or on Goodreads when I read a physical book now, as those prompts really are helpful, especially if you don’t get to writing the review for a few weeks (or months!) after you finished the book!
Thanks, Becky! I think for a time I felt the topic had been thoroughly covered, but wanted to add my own thoughts in a slightly different way now that the technology has been around for a while and most people have at least tried it! R xx
I use a kindle app to read on my tablet and I do enjoy using it. I don’t really care about not owning a physical book, I already have a huge collection (over 40 years worth of hoarding books) and I have realised that I just can’t physically house every book I read. That being said I don’t think you can beat the feeling of browsing in a bookshop or a library for a physical book, the tangible feel and smell and of it, and the rightness of it in my hand. But the handiness of hundreds of books on my kindle is also hard to beat. And I love reading in bed with the light of my tablet.
I’m team both 😀 As long as there are great words to whisk me away, I’m happy.
Your collection must be super impressive! Do you have photos of them all?
“I don’t think you can beat the feeling of browsing in a bookshop or a library for a physical book, the tangible feel and smell and of it, and the rightness of it in my hand.” I ❤ THAT.
I think I'm team both in theory, but the heart wants what it wants! R xx
Oh and I don’t really care what happens my collection after I die. But it’s an interesting point.
And you can loan some books on a kindle. I have done it and have borrowed from friends too. While it’s on loan you can’t read it but then it becomes available again after a certain time period.
I did think it was a bit of a morbid and “out there” point, but relevant for some. Silly as it sounds, when someone I care about is no longer here, I know there are things I would want to remember them by, my Dad’s Quiet Man collection is one thing, my Mum’s artwork is another, and I think because people associate me so much with my books, especially certain ones in particular, that should anything happen to me, then my family and loved ones would probably want something that was so important to me in their lives, does that make sense?
The ability to loan is good, I guess over time, the system has had to adapt to make it feasible and attractive! R xx
This is exactly why I will not spend money on ebooks. However, I find them super convenient for traveling and also reading in bed (with the built-in light) so I get them for free – older books and classics are easily available from various sources – or check them out from the library.
Your library card is in effect a subscription service; what’s available varies depending on your library’s collection, but I’m fortunate to be able to use one that has a great selection and also takes suggestions of other titles to purchase. I love that I can check out books any time of day or night and start reading instantly.
Yay! So glad you see my point of view 🙂 Yes, they do have their purpose! Travelling, sample chapters, free classics, etc., but I could never justify spending large amounts on eBooks, especially those books that are only a couple of pounds cheaper in eBook form. I REFUSE!! Lol
That’s a really good point! I never thought of a library card as a subscription service before! Unfortunately, I never use my local library, for a variety of (non)excuses, and I keep threatening to. I do like to buy books, and find great deals on them, and my TBR is so large at the minute that I can’t really justify library visits, because I need to get through the mountain in my dining room first! I like to try and be picky in the books that I keep that I give shelf-space to, but I also have this thing where I can’t sell/donate/get rid of a book until I’ve read it first. Round and around we go!
There was one time I specifically got an eBook from the library, because I could not find a good price for this book ANYWHERE. So I borrowed the eBook, and I ended up really disliking the book, so it was great I hadn’t paid full price for it. I would do that again in the future. R xx
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[…] Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek is breaking up with ebooks. […]
I never see e-book as rent than buy, but now that I think about it, I can see how true it is! I read a mixed of both phsysical and e-books, but I love physical books more than e-books. E-books are more flexible and lighter, but it also take me much longer to finish a 200 pg e-book than a 400 pg physical book. There are something about e-book that just doesn’t grip me. I also has to read physical book in between e-books, or else I’ll go into a reading slump!
It definitely is more of a licensing situation than a purchase! I tend to find I don’t usually enjoy an eBook as much. I think part of the reading “experience” for me is the tactile feeling of a book. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to reading eBooks for travelling etc. R xx
[…] a two part discussion, Rachel thinks on why she broke up with e-books and analyzes the facts of the whole e-books vs. print books […]
[…] was busy on the blog this month! I also wrote about why I’m breaking up with eBooks, and discussed eBooks versus paper books – the facts. I wrote a guest post over on […]
[…] I’m Breaking Up With eBooks […]
I had never really thought about it like that, but you’re totally right when you say that essentially when you ‘buy’ an ebook you’re actually just renting it. There definitely isn’t that same sense of ownership you have with a real book anyway, where you can lend it to a friend or display it on your shelf. It’s just locked away in cyberspace, where you could essentially lose access to it forever, even though you’ve paid for it.
I do find ebooks convenient, and I’m more into them now than I used to, but only if they’re cheap enough to justify all the things you’re missing out on with a physical book. Great post! 🙂
Thanks, Laura! The research for this post definitely put me off eBooks even more than I was before. I’m not entirely opposed to them, they just don’t do it for me. If I read an eBook or two, I crave a physical book. Part of the reason NetGalley doesn’t work so well for me! R xx
[…] Khan Is Not Obliged: We all know I’m not the biggest fan of eBooks, but every now and then a book that’s really talked about in the community goes on a cheap […]
[…] I’m a paperback book lover through and through (I never quite hit it off with eBooks), I appreciate that for many people, eBooks helped spark a passion for reading that they never had […]