There is something great about the traditional books as we know them. Many people adore the smell of a new book, with its specific smell just out-of-the-printing-house, with its pages not cut properly or still sticking to one another. The moment you open the book, you get pretty excited, right? However, the technological revolution has also influenced the world of the books as well. So today, we are going to talk about electronic vs. traditional books as we know them, comparing pros and cons of both.

Printed books vs. e-books: which one is more popular now?

So let us begin with some boring numbers to understand the general tendencies of the industry. As you may see, e-books have their fair share of the market, and the numbers of sales went up around 2012-2014, have ever dropped by 9% by 2017. You may also see that the hardback editions have slightly grown (less than 3% over 6 years, while the paperbacks went down just to go back to nearly the same numbers in 2017).

What does it mean? Many publishers have noticed that the US population has gained their interest in paper books back in 2016-2017. This could be explained by the number of reasons, including educational changes, the returned trend for paperbacks, and re-evaluations of the importance of the books.

Advantages of printed books over e-books

So let’s talk more about things that make paper books virtually irresistible to every person who loves reading.

First, there is a physical aspect. Grading a book, feeling the rugged texture of paper, smelling the ink, and opening the pages are what make this process kind of magical. Especially if we are talking about hardback editions, with the embossed name on it, colorful illustrations and a lace bookmark (tell me you love them too!).

Second, you can highlight important things, write on the margins and stick notes onto pages you’d like to return to later.

Third, a good coffee and a traditional book (replace coffee with your favorite beverage to achieve greater impact) is a nice way to relax.

Moreover, a good book can be a perfect present on any occasion and to virtually anyone.

Pros and cons of e-books

So moving on to electronic books, I have a confession to make. I love them if they come free of charge or cheap. I am never ready to pay the price that comes close to the price of a hardback edition. Not that I can’t afford it, I just can justify it. But let’s discuss positive aspect first.

  • convenient storage. One tablet or e-reader can fit up to 1000 books and if you add could-based storage, your opportunities are almost limitless. Which is good, comparing to the amount of space a regular book takes up on your shelf.
  • great access to the world literature. One of the best things about electronic books is that you can get them anywhere and have access to the best samples of literature from all over the world (which may be harder to achieve with paper books).
  • fits into every bag. If you are traveling, commuting or simply taking your textbooks to classes, an e-reader fits into every size of the purse, and it so much easier to carry around.
  • chance to explore new genres and authors without having to commit to having their book in your personal library.

Seems like a great replacement for the traditional book? Don’t you hurry, my friend! Think about these:

  • they are still expensive. Generally, an e-book would be only 2- to 30% cheaper than a paperback, and in some cases, it may cost even more!
  • technical problems. With the versatility of the gadgets on the market, you may experience troubles finding a place to purchase books in the necessary format. There is e-pub for IOS devices, FB2, PDF, RTF, and much more. And there is also the need for updates if you would like to keep your access to books.
  • formatting. You know what drives me crazy? The cringed paragraphs, mixed spacing, and typos. The last just can kill the mood instantly. 

Should e-books replace paper books?

This is a great question, and I think that on many occasions the e-books could replace traditional books and would make our lives so much better! As a student, you know the struggle for trying to find something in a paper book, spilling coffee over it or accidentally losing another memo you stick onto the page to help you find an important quote. E-books are so much easier to navigate and deal with in terms of search and basic maintenance. However, there are so many cases paper books will remain in place. For example, you won’t teach a kid to read with an e-reader. Or at least it didn’t work out for my nephews.

How to use e-books and paper books together?

While the battle will be going on, I truly believe that the best way to use both, using each type for certain needs. For example:

  1. explore your opportunities and broaden your reading horizons, as you can easily find the books from almost any country or in a different language or its translation.
  2. purchase the paper copies of the books you loved to be able to read them whenever you need to have a great time on your own.
  3. transfer your textbooks into the cloud storage. This way you don’t have to carry a giant backpack or spend too much time trying to find an important quote, as you will be able to browse them quickly.
  4. express your appreciation for the author or certain genre by purchasing a paper form of the book.
  5. save free space in your dorm room by having most of your books on your electronic device.

I truly believe that a student has to have a choice of the books they would love to work with (some of us just do not work well with technology or could not afford another device at the moment). However, I do believe that e-books could help us improve the quality of the published literature because if publishers would be forced to first have e-book versions, and only then print out things that had great reviews, we could significantly reduce the number of low-quality screeds we can find on the shelves of bookstores.


Hardback 33% 33% 34.1% 36.4% 33.5% 33.5% 35.7%
Paperback 35.6% 31.4% 29.8% 26.8% 30.3% 35.4% 34.3%
Audio 2.5% 2.6% 3.1% 3.2% 4% 4.6% 5.6%
E-book 18% 24.5% 24.5% 26% 23.6% 18.3% 17%
Other (incl. mass market) 10.9% 8.5% 8.6% 7.6% 8.5% 8.3% 7.5%