Yay or Nay: Are eBooks better than Printed Books?

In a world that is rapidly moving and becoming more digitalised, it has become an essential part of the world to have everything easily accessible to you, within that rectangular box of silicon that we all carry in our pockets.

Reading books is a very personal journey that varies from person to person, depending on their preferred genre of choice. I’m pretty sure all book lovers can tell you that reading is a magical and personal journey that transcends other kinds of sensory experiences.

YAY – Yun Jing

Accessibility and Portability 


As all book lovers know, shelf space is something that is incredibly sacred and scarce to us. The word ‘enough’ is completely alien in our lexicon, as we just can’t stop our overwhelming urge to buy more books to feed our curiosity. However, it does get to a point in which one has to be more critical of what books to buy, whether due to financial or spatial constraints.  

Yet, all of these woes are but a plight of the past with the advent of the internet and digital books. Depending on your device’s hard drive, it can be possible to store thousands to tens of thousands of books in your device, all easily accessible at any time of the day.

Bored of reading a particular book? Just close the book and choose a different book from your library, all from the comfort of your bed and without having to move a muscle (maybe that’s just the lazy part of me talking). 

In addition, ebooks can be such a blessing for busy readers constantly on the move. Imagine you’re moving houses or even migrating to another country; it can be a free for all for what occupies your sparse storage. Sure, you might be able to fit in your favourite books or series, but it’s highly unlikely that all your collection will be following you on the journey, lest they be left behind or donated to others. With ebooks, you can be assured that your dearest collection will always be ready and saved securely, even with cloud storage services such as iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and many more. 

Size and Fonts 

Something I never knew about myself (and my pickiness) was how much the size of books and their fonts affected my reading enjoyment. Personally, I cannot find myself enjoying reading mass-market paperbacks compared to hardbacks or paperbacks; if I can’t physically clasp the book firmly with both my arms, then it’s a no-go for me. You may call me a snobby and choosy reader all you want, but size does matter. 

Furthermore, larger books also beget larger font sizes, and sometimes this can make or break a reading experience for me. With all that said, my fellow ebook advocates would know how magical your first transition from physical to digital books was. All of a sudden, it’s like a huge degree of customizability was opened up to you; we were fed with a level of freedom that we were so very ignorant of. What I mean is that most ebook readers will allow you to change the font sizes to suit your preference; even the themes and font styles of the text can be modified according to an array of options. All of a sudden, reading just became more personal than it is. 

NAY – Karran

I’ll admit, eBooks are awesome. I’d be a liar if I claimed to hate them, or that I haven’t put down a paperback because I despised the font. However, there’s an unmistakable charm to reading a proper, printed book – the feel of it in one’s hands, the scent of a fresh page, the sight of it on a bookshelf, the satisfaction of clasping it shut at the end … there is no experience quite like it. Therefore, I beg to differ – eBooks are great, but printed books are far superior. Here’s why.

It’s a Novel Experience, Pun Intended

It’s not just about reading the book. You can’t showcase an eBook, colour-code them on a bookshelf, or own the same book in different sizes, styles, and cover designs. Most of all, eBooks can’t be signed, gifted, or passed down in the name of sentimental value. Sure, eBooks save space – and this might be the best choice for some people, but not me. Heck, I’d build a library just to store all my books!

I love organising books on a shelf and stacking them on coffee tables. After all, the aesthetic is part of the charm. It’s also arguable that printed books offer a more immersive experience. You can scribble notes in the margins, highlight passages, and dog-ear pages as needed. Although the same can be said for eBooks, the experience just doesn’t feel the same. Plus, I love lending books to friends and getting authors to sign the paperbacks I’ve purchased.

You Actually Get to Unplug

Unlike eBooks, printed books don’t require a power source to operate. You just need sufficient light and a comfortable reading space. In the age of smartphone addiction and never-ending media consumption, opportunities to disconnect from the internet don’t come often. Hence, I relish the time I set aside to read as an excuse to tune out the rest of the world. It’s almost an act of self-care. I’d even argue that it makes the reading experience all the more immersive, as it encourages us to use our imagination for a change.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that printed books are more effective than eBooks for improving reading comprehension. Although one might read quicker using an eReader, printed books are often better at helping readers remember and retain information as it eliminates potential distractions such as links, scrolling, and advertisements.

You’ve Got Options

You can purchase both new and used books. Aside from being the cheaper option, purchasing used books is also better for the environment. You could also borrow books from a friend or the library. Best of all, printed books can be resold or gifted once read! It doesn’t have to sit on a bookshelf and collect dust; or, in the case of eBooks, remain untouched in a digital library forevermore.

Nonetheless, dearest readers, regardless of where you stand on this side of the debate, I’m certain we can all agree that books remain one of humanity’s greatest invention and should be preserved in whatever form it takes. The culmination of the Homo sapiens’s triumph and failure will continue to blaze radiantly as the embers of knowledge are passed from one generation to the next, from the past, present, and into the future wherever it leads us.

Written by: Yun Jing & Karran

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