10 Reasons Why Physical Books Are Still Better Than Digital Books

After 8 months of experimenting with digital books on my iPad (got a nice deal buying it refurbished from the Apple site), I’ve determined that I still like physical books more. Here’s ten reasons why.

1. Physical books never run low on batteries.

2. Much more efficiently than with digital books, you can put your finger in your spot in a physical book, flip back and forth in it as needed, and then go right back to your spot.

3. You can put physical books in multiple places (desk, bedside, bathroom) to remind you to read more often. You lack that visual cue to read the digital books that are hidden in the hard drive of your iPad.

4. It’s faster to reference a book when all you have to do is pull it off the shelf and open it up.

5. Printed books ignite all your senses. I like the smell of a new book, and the texture of the pages’ edges under my thumb. I get more pleasure from a glance at the design of the cover before I open the book, compared to the immediate transport to where I left off in my Kindle app. And the thud of closing a book, after you’ve finished, it has a triumphant ring to it – one that the puny speaker of a mobile device can never reproduce.

6. Physical books are easier to loan, borrow, and give (especially in bulk).

7. Because the pagination changes based on your text size, it’s difficult to follow and contribute to a group discussion about a book if you are one of the few who read it in iBooks.

8. The ability to write in the margins provides much more freedom to develop your own note taking style.

9. It’s easier to keep track of your progress while reading a physical book.

10. The context of a digital book, since it consists of apps, makes a high level of focus difficult to achieve. It sucks away the attention you can give to what you are reading, even if you have the discipline not to check sports scores or email, because the other stuff on your device is in the back of your mind.


  1. Eric,

    Good points. But reading extensively from an Ipad is hard on the eyes. I find that I’m reading much more now that I have a Nook Simple Touch. The e ink display is easy on the eyes.

    • Eric McKiddie says:

      It’s funny that you mention the display, Cliff, because that’s actually one of the complaints I don’t have. I have heard a lot of people praise the e ink, though.

  2. I suggest that this post should have been titled “10 Reasons Why Physical Books Are Still Better Than iBooks.” Many of the objections you list are partially or fully answered by Bible study software like Logos or Accordance. I’d list 1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10 as partially/fully addressed by more powerful software.

  3. Eric McKiddie says:

    True, Dave. I had in mind the experience of using an ereader, not so much digital books that are available in Bible software packages. But I have similar feelings toward the Kindle app on the iPad, not just iBooks.

    When it comes to Bible software, I’m a big fan of using dictionaries and encyclopedias in the digital format, but I’m still a sucker for commentaries in hardback.

    • Actually, it’s more like ’10 reasons why physical books are still better than e-reading software on an iPad’.

      An e-ink reader has a much better battery life (1), and in particular fixes point 10 – although there are other “apps” on a Kindle, it is basically a dedicated book-reading device.

      I think that 8 is debatable – I only started using a highlighting pen in physical books _after_ I started on the Kindle. And there is much more space available on an e-reader.

      4 is true _if_ you can remember _which_ book you need (and that book hasn’t succumbed to 6, although e-book lending would have the same problem)

      I’ve not really used bookmarking in the Kindle app, but I’m guessing 2 is true.

      9 is a 50/50. You get a % and a progress bar on the Kindle app.

      Presumably you’re going to counter with 10 reasons why an e-book is better than a physical book? Can I throw out a mention of https://read.amazon.com as a great plus of being able to access all your books wherever you are?

  4. Nothing beats the sensation of rolling through my old scrolls. I’ll never give them up for those modern “book” thingies.

    But seriously–I love my physical library and my digital library (over 6000 volumes in each). There are strengths and weaknesses with each format. My biggest problem is that I’m finding myself digitally duplicating many of the physical books I’ve already read many times, just for the search and copy/paste functions.

  5. I disagree with almost every point. Instead of writing out my beef here, I published my rebuttal here: http://siberiangrinder.com/?p=3437

  6. If you own said book (yours, not the library’s, for instance) and if you don’t like it you can toss it in File 13. It makes a satisfying thump as it hits the garbage.

  7. Paul Clutterbuck says:

    I have quite a few printed books, most of them bought at overpriced local bookstores before I had the combination of a computer, Internet connection and credit card. I don’t have a particular attachment to the printed format, except when it comes to loaning books to others. My collection of 250-300 printed books resides on two bookcases in another city, a few hundred miles from here.

    With digital books, I’m saving resources in at least three ways: I save the paper and ink with which they’re printed, the transport costs involved in their shipping from publisher to wholesaler to bookstore, and the money the Lord has entrusted me with, which I then use for other things like my multiple child sponsorships. Digital books occupy no additional space, which is important given that I currently live in a 9′ × 9′ room in a boardinghouse. When I travel around the country, all my Kindle books, iTunes audiobooks, university e-texts, and PDFs are stored on my netbook, and I don’t have to lug a suitcase full of books whenever I travel. If it’s the content of books that I’m really after, why would I waste resources by insisting on a particular format?

    Living in New Zealand, a long way from the US and UK publishing houses where most English-language books are produced (including almost all Christian books), there’s quite a high shipping premium with printed books, as well as a long lead-in time after I order them. I’d rather save both money and time by cutting out shipping altogether. With digital books, I can buy a book one minute and be reading it (or listening to it if it’s an audiobook) the next. Maybe if you live in the same city or state as the publisher, you might do things differently.

  8. Scrolls are better than paginated books:
    1. Pages never fall out
    2. Much larger visual clue
    3. All hand written… no terrible mechanical type faces that vary from book to book
    4. Since Jesus used a scroll then…

  9. For me it’s a combination of both. If I like a book i’ll buy the hardcover version. If I have to travel from a very far place then I will buy the digital book version and read it in my android/ios device.

    I have to agree that the physical book is still the best version you can have. The smell, the texture, the artistic dust jacket it contributes to your reading experience. And if you attend an event you can have the author sign on the book which is great.

  10. Dennis Raffaelli says:

    I like physical books, but I do love my Kindle. I have read more books in the last two years with it than I have in the last 50. You have a whole library at your fingertips. You can search for a passage instantly. You have a dictionary and can get a definition of a word just my putting the cursor on it. You can borrow books from the library.

    I have whole Bibles on my Kindle. I can turn to the reference I need at once.

    Saying physical books are better than ebooks is the same as someone from of old saying scrolls are better then books.


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