Paperbacks vs Ebooks: the Big Ereader Debate

So today I did something that I once swore black and blue I would never do. I brought a Kindle. I’m still largely in the ‘what have I done’ stage.

For years I’ve been anti-ebooks. I like my paperbacks just fine thank you very much. I find them easy to read, and despite a lot of people’s complaints about how heavy they are, I’ve never had an issue with carrying a book in my handbag. In fact I’ve brought handbag’s based on their size and ability to hold books before and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s very rarely that I leave the house with out a book to accompany me. While it’s true that I own the odd ebook,  I’ve never really gotten into the swing of the ebook movement. And while I understand it may be better for everyone in the long term (especially the environment) I can’t help but be a bit standoffish and resentful towards the new direction that books are taking. To that end, I’ve been saying for years that I don’t want  anything to do with ebooks. I wasn’t fussed on the format of reading books on a device/reader – which I will acknowledge as odd, given the fact that I have no issue with reading  just about anything on my desktop computer. I wasn’t a fan of the pricing system for some ebooks, for although everyone raved about how quick it was to download them, many new release ebooks cost more as an ebook than those I’ve found instore (particularly at my work place – a local department store). I didn’t own a kindle or any other form of ereader and I was adamant that I didn’t want too.  To be perfectly honest, I just didn’t think the movement would take off as much as it has. But circumstances have changed now and I’ve found myself reluctantly  joining the band wagon. 

I’ve sat through many conferences and talks where authors, publishers and various media people have spoken at length about the massive changes and unpredictability the book industry is facing. I understand realistically, ereaders and ebooks are most likely to become the way of the future and on some level I accept that. Despite that, I still don’t feel that paperbacks will disappear completely – at least I hope they never do. And while I now own a Kindle device, I don’t believe I will stop buying physical paperbacks.

So you may be wondering why did I purchase a Kindle given all that I’ve just said? Truthfully, part of the issue for me steems from the fact that I’m running out of room to store my books. My booksehlves and cupboards are overflowing, as is my desk. If only I could afford to have a massive room dedicated to my personal library, alas I’m not that well off, but the dream lives on. What’s more, I plan to travel overseas later on this year and while I know I won’t be reading as much while I’m overseas, I know I’ll still read a fair bit and would need more than one book for the trip. Logically it makes sense to have a device to store books on that’s lightweight and won’t take up much space because anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not likely to leave the books behind or throw them out. I’m a horder. Especially when it comes to books. To add to all of this, I’ve recently been accepted and granted approval to some books via NetGalley.  A site which gives out ebooks  to ‘professional readers’ and people in the industry for honest reviews.

A lot of research was undertaken before I purchased my Kindle. And although its still charging and I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, I think in the long run I may be happy. At least I hope I will be. I can foresee issues in the coming days and weeks where I may hate the thing, but in terms of what I need it for, I’m quietly confident it will serve it’s purposes. That is when I’m not feeling guilty and it doesn’t make me feel as though I’ve turned my back on the paperback industry. 

So I’m interested in what your thoughts on this often controversial debate are? Are you pro-paperback or pro-ebook? Do you believe one will out number the other in the future? If you already own an ereader, has it helped or changed your reading habits at all? I’ve heard many people say they read more now because of their devices.  Although I’m not necessarily convinced this may be the case in my situation. Do you have any tips or warnings for people travelling down a similar road as I am?

Until next time, happy reading.



6 thoughts on “Paperbacks vs Ebooks: the Big Ereader Debate

  1. Allyce says:

    I am pro-reading. No matter what way you read on, I’m just happy that people are reading 🙂 But having said this I love ebooks and I do think that in the future, sales may slightly beat the paperback. Having said this though, I have found that if I read an ebook that is just AMAZING I will go and buy the paperback. The urge to own a book book is still there, but instead of having the overstuffed bookcases full of books I’ll never read again, I feel that the books that I add now are higher quality ones that will be read more.

    I also like the idea of more money from my ebook purchase going to the author rather than production costs. But finally one hint is to look into Calibre. It is a program that lets you change the format of an ebook. Say if you have an epub but your kindle will only play mobi files, this program converts it to the correct format you want 🙂

  2. Kerry Letheby says:

    Hi Jess. I am a fan of both. Love my books and will still keep buying them, but I love my e-reader for travel. It’s the most convenient way to take a lot of books with you.

  3. Nell Robertson says:


    I’m thinking about this question at the moment as I’m hoping to get my first book published later this year.

    ‘Slipstream’ is vaguely set in the 1980s – the characters own walkmans and listen to cassette tapes, and occasionally use a public phone box to arrange meetings… (There’s still a couple of payphones around Newcastle but who can recall the last time they used one?) I wonder if my nostalgia for a time when technology was less pervasive will balance the fact that Kindles really seem to be the way to go if you want to get published – especially if what you write isn’t all that mainstream – ie, no shady grey soft porn, no vampires, and no wizards (although I have included a magic snorkel and some levitating furniture…)

    I’m still undecided! I suspect the romantic in me would rather a handful of people pick up a hard copy of ‘Slipstream’ in a bookshop, or discover it years later on a dusty shelf at the back of a library, than read it facing a fluorescent screen.


    • Jess says:

      Good Luck with your book Nell!
      We’ve got two pay phones in my suburb and I don’t think anyone has stepped foot in them in years other than to vandalise them.
      Are you aiming for a publisher to pick it up or looking down the self-published path?
      I know a lot of the publishers at the moment are looking for new, fresh and young voices to be published and most of them have a day/afternoon dedicated to reading unsolictered work, so good luck with what ever you choose.

      I agree though, the romantic in me still wants to hold books, and I know I dream of holding the heavier paper version of my own book one day in my hand. It seems more real that way to me I guess – in a way like you’ve achieved more simply on the basis that it looks bigger than a file on a computer. It’s moved on from the file stage so to speak.

  4. Amy says:

    I agree with Allyce, I think as long as you are reading it does not matter. And I see the sides of both arguments. What I don’t like is people who think just because there are ereaders that books will disappear. I do not understand why they can’t both co-exist, radio and TV do it quite fine. As long as people buy, read, and love books then there will be books, and if ereaders get people who haven’t read before reading then that is fine too. Though I will add in I personally don’t like reading on an ereader, but it doesn’t mean I am against them either.

    • Allyce says:

      Thats a great point about television and radio, and exactly how I feel. The existence of one will not cancel out the other! And just you wait Amy, you’ll have what happened to me and you’ll be on the ereader bandwagon – I had an author release an ebook only version of a series I was in love with. So I had to purchase the Kindle file and then read it, on of all places, my very fiddled with ipod 🙂

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