Ebooks pros and cons - Electronic book vs paper book: which is better?



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Have e-readers changed the way you read? We discuss the pros and cons of ebooks. Vote and tell us whether you prefer electronic or traditional paper books.


eBooks vs Paper books

On netivist we love books and we like to discuss them, for instance we are debating the best British crime novelistAmerican writer, and literary fantasy world. Now we turn our attention to the format we prefer to read.

Electronic books (e-books or ebooks) have revolutionized the publishing industry. The success of e-readers such as the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon Kindle contributed to stimulating the popularity of ebooks. Later, tablets and smart phones have also contributed to this growing trend. eBooks have many advantages over paper books but many people still prefer to read traditional paper books.

However, the origin of the ebook can be traced back to 1930, when Bob Brown, an American writer and businessman, wrote The Redies, a manifesto in which he described:

 "a simple machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novel in 10 minutes if I want to..."

The machine included miniaturized text on a ribbon and a magnifying glass. Its speed was supposed to be controlled by the reader.

In a Spanish teacher, Angela Ruiz Robles, patented the first electronic book reader, called Enciclopedia Mecanica, the idea being to reduce the number of books children had to carry to school. Later, the Italian Jesuit Roberto Busa compiled from 1949 to 1970 an annotated electronic index of Thomas Aquinas' works, which was first stored in a computer and then in a CD-ROM. From the early 1960s Doug Engelbart (Stanford Research Institute) and Andries van Dam (Brown University) develop electronic reading systems which included hyperlinks, indexes and graphics. However, it is Michael S. Hart, who is widely considered as the inventor of the modern ebook His Project Gutenberg launched in 1971, aimed at making ebooks available via the Internet.

Today, the ebook has grown so much that although print books generate more revenues than ebooks, some estimates indicate that in terms of units sold, the ebook may already be ahead of the paper book in the USA. But which of the two formats is superior? Is this just a fad or the ebook will end up completely replacing the paper book?

eBooks pros and cons

eBooks pros:

  • Cost effective. Ebooks are cheaper and faster to produce than printed books.
  • eBooks are cheaper for users because the cost of producing and distributing additional copies is negligible.
  • Thanks to the ebook many new authors can see their works reach the market. Publishing companies were a great barrier many authors never managed to overcome.
  • eBooks are environmentally friendly: there is no need to cut down trees.
  • Technological advances are making e-readers increasingly cheaper and more comfortable to use. Electronic books allow searches and may help you find parts of the text you are looking for.
  • They can be shared with people far away instantly and the owner does doesn't have the risk of losing her copy of the book.
  • In a single device you can carry hundreds of books. You can have an entire library with you at all times.
  • You save lot of space home.

Cons of eBooks:

  • A disadvantage of ebooks it that it is very easy and cheap to copy them illegally. Therefore copyright problems have greatly increased since the advent of the electronic book.
  • There are problems with formats due to Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues. When you buy a book for the Amazon Kindle, the book may not be read on your Nook or Sony reader. You may end up tied to a company once you start building your electronic library.
  • Computers, tablets and e-readers do not provide the same sensorial experience as with a traditional book. The text on a screen has a different feeling to your eye. The touch of the paper, and even the smell of the book is lost in the case of the electronic book.
  • A more traditional engagement with books can very positive for the education of children. Writing on a book and passing the pages back and forth is good for their development.
  • Printed books are beautiful and a book shelf is a very nice complement for any room in a house.
  • As ebooks are easy and cheap to produce, many authors do not use now the services of professional editors, which would have otherwise, contributed very positively to the overall quality of the work.
  • The introduction of the ebook and the problems of "piracy" have created problems from the publishing industry and caused the loss of many jobs.

Watch these videos on the virtues and limitations of ebooks

e-Books vs paper book: which format is better? Why? Vote in our poll and explain why you favour one format over the other.

If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.

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Ebooks pros and cons - Electronic book vs paper book: which is better?

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