As a reader, what would you prefer in your hand? An ebook reader, or a print copy of your favorite book?
Whatever you prefer, there are pros and cons for both. Some things to consider, though, about each:
Pros for Print
• It just feels good to have a solid book in my hands, with pages that turn, even if they’re dog-eared and won’t stay flat so I can read them anywhere. Okay, that’s a con, but not a biggie.
• There’s something about walking into a book store, and browsing books on shelves. It’s an experience that is tactile, much like shopping for clothes. It’s an experience, that, even if you don’t buy anything, cannot be duplicated with an image on a screen.
• We grew up reading paperbacks and hardcover books. It brings back memories of summer days by the beach, trying to stay awake at night so you can read that last chapter, reading illustrated books to your kids, or being read to. It doesn’t matter that you can do all this with e-readers, it’s what we remember, and it brings up emotions that nothing else can.
• An author can autograph your print book.
• You can donate the books you’ve read to public libraries, or get a little cash back by taking them to a second-hand bookstore, or selling them on Amazon and Alibris as “used”.
Cons for Print
• They’re expensive to print, and far more costly to produce than an e-book.
• They take up space. Physical space. I don’t know about you, but unless you have a large home with a lot of bookshelf space, they end up back at the second-hand bookstore, or donated to your public library. This is a good thing too, so it could be a “pro” if you like to donate.
Pros for Ebooks and Ereaders
• Where do I start? Okay, the expense to buy an ereader, you might say, is a con. Not really. On Amazon you can find a kindle ereader for less than $50. Still too much? How much do your print books cost if you’re an avid reader? Ebooks sell for as little as .99c, and sometimes (often) they’re free. I am talking about Amazon here, since I have no idea what other internet book sellers offer. Independent authors like to use these promotional services. A lot.
• They take up no space at all. I don’t know how many books you can stuff into one e-reader—I’ve never reached the limit on mine. I just know it’s a lot, and you can delete older books to make room for new books if you have to.
• You have a wide selection of discounted books to read. As an independently published author myself, I want to entice readers to not only buy my books, but to read them, and get to know me as an author. I will give books away. I will discount them to .99c. So far, I spend more money on giving books away than I do getting it back. I know a lot of other authors just like me.
• I can’t imagine what life would be like without my e-reader. It would be a less interesting place, for sure. There are literally hundreds of books I never would have read, because one can’t find them in a physical book store. Wonderful, amazing books. My life has expanded because I have an e-reader, and yes, I am willing to give unknown authors a chance on my kindle.
Cons for Ebooks and Ereaders
• This is hard for me. While I would never part with my e-reader, I understand why some people will never have one. First thing that comes to mind, is the lack of tactile experience. Holding a cold device in one’s hand just doesn’t feel the same. I have spoken to a lot of die-hard print readers who say this. It’s not just me.
• What if they die on you? In (gasp) the middle of a book? It happens. None of your books will be lost, even if you have to buy another one. They’ll still be there. It has not happened to me though—yet, although I did buy another Kindle recently, and was delighted to find my whole library intact.
• Popular authors seldom offer discounts or freebies. They don’t have to. Think J.K. Rowling. I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen one.
And, the last con, but a biggie:
• But…but…you say: “Aren’t discounted or free self-published books awful? Full of mistakes? Ugly covers?” Yes. I’ve seen those—too many times. It breaks my heart, because there are just as many (if not more) self-published and unknown authors who take the time and trouble to have their books edited, to format them properly, to find good covers and deliver a professional product. I think I am one of them. I try very hard! It is these authors you may discover during a free promo, or a discounted promo. Give them a chance. You won’t find it much in their print versions, though.
I am sure you can come up with more pros and cons about each. Please feel free to comment here what your opinions are. It is interesting for me and my blog readers to discover why people prefer one thing over another!