Real Books Versus E-books

Real books or e-books? Is one better than the other? Or do they both have their own advantages and disadvantages? We’ll find out in today’s post! And we’ll begin by looking at the advantages of a real book.

What are the pros of reading an actual book? What advantage does it have over an e-book?

The obvious one is that a book doesn’t have to be charged. I have never been flipping through the pages of a book and had it suddenly go dead. That has happened with my e-reader, and when you’re in the middle of an interesting story and don’t have the option to charge it, it’s annoying.

My last e-reader had a glitch where it would freeze up and wouldn’t start working until the battery had gone completely dead and the reader had been recharged. I never knew when it would freeze up, and I wouldn’t be able to read any more for awhile. Once when it quit working, it cost me my travel pillow, but that’s a tale for another day. Books never freeze up, they never go dead, and they never have to be charged.

A book is usually easier reading than an e-book.

If you’re reading on a tablet or phone screen, after awhile your eyes get tired and it is difficult to keep reading. As much as possible, I read e-books on my Nook paperwhite e-reader, but even that is not the same as reading from a book.

Generally, there are more options when it comes to books. There are thousands of e-books, but there are still many books that are not available in e-book form. Most e-books are available in book form, but that is not always the case vice versa.

Books are more easily shared than e-books.

I’ll admit it: this advantage of a real book is not always an advantage. It’s great sharing books with friends, getting them interested in the same books you enjoy. And I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve borrowed from friends through the years. As an avid reader, I had a difficult time staying supplied with reading material that I hadn’t already read several times, so borrowing books from friends was a good way to get new books to read.

But there is a downside to loaning books. They don’t always come back, and if they do, they generally aren’t in as good of shape as when they left. So if you’re loaning books to someone, keep that in mind. And if you’re the one borrowing books, take good care of the books you’re borrowing. If necessary put a sticky note on the book so you know who it belongs to.

A book is just nicer than an e-book.

It’s not as easy to curl up and get comfortable with an e-reader as it is with a book. It’s also nicer, in my opinion, to turn the page of a book than it is to hit a button to go on to the next page.

Books are more visibly appealing than an electronic reading device.

Imagine a bookshelf filled with e-readers, tablets, laptops, and cellphones…Now imagine a bookshelf filled with books of all different colors, heights, and thicknesses. Which is more pleasing to the eye? I would always prefer to look at the shelf of books than at a shelf full of electronics. You can’t display an e-book on a coffee table, unless you put the device it’s read on, on the coffee table. But books can be displayed, and I think they are some of the nicest décor items you can have on display.

roses on old books | books or e-books

Now on to some advantages of e-books.

E-books are usually cheaper than books.

If you compare a book with its e-book, most of the time the e-book is going to be cheaper. Sometimes they are free or pretty close to free. This isn’t always the case, but it is pretty common. I’ve bought some books in e-book form for that reason. My pocketbook can afford the dollar e-book better than it can the eight or eighteen dollar book.

It’s easier to carry around an electronic reading device than it is a book.

Unless you like reading short, small books, it is generally more convenient to carry an e-reader or cellphone around with you than it is to carry a book. Most e-book reading devices are small enough to fit in a purse; some will even fit in your pocket. Plus, an e-reader isn’t as likely to be damaged by being carried somewhere, unless it doesn’t have a screen protector on it. Carrying a book with you, the pages might get torn or crumpled, and the cover might be damaged. An e-reader is sturdier and made to be used on the go.

Most e-book readers have a light on them.

One of my favorite things about my Nook e-reader is that is has a light. The light isn’t terribly bright, so it shouldn’t be distracting to others, but is bright enough to read by. This is a real advantage when we’re traveling in the car after dark. Book lights are hard to control, and too much light in a car can be distracting to the driver. But with the built-in light, there is plenty of light for reading, but not enough to bother anyone else.

You can carry a whole library with you.

Have you ever been packing for a trip and decided you would take three hundred books with you? No? I have…many times! Using an e-reader, I can always have an entire library with me. And unless I want one of my real books that I left at home, I never have to worry about wishing I’d have brought a different book along to read. I’m a pretty fast reader, so having a lot of books with me is nice, so I don’t run out of books to read.

There are more options when it comes to e-books.

Now before you scroll up to see if I said the exact opposite of that when talking about books, I did in fact say that. Let me explain. Some books are rare collector’s items, and either nearly impossible to find or outrageously expensive. A lot of these kinds of books are old and in the public domain and available as e-books.

Earlier I said there are a lot of books that aren’t available as e-books, but there are also some books that are easier to find as e-books. It just depends on the book.

You can recommend e-books to friends without loaning them

If you enjoy a good book and want your friends to read it too, you can recommend the e-book to them. Since it’s usually cheaper, or sometimes free, to get an e-book, they might take you up on your suggestion. And you don’t have to worry about loaning out one of your cherished books while wondering if you will ever see it again.

e-reader, hat, sunglasses at the beach | books or e-books


So what is the conclusion we reach after comparing books and e-books? I would say that both of them are a good reading option. A book is generally nicer, but an e-book has some advantages that a book doesn’t have. What are your thoughts on this? Which do you prefer: real books or e-books?

Do you have any reading topics you would like me to do a This versus That post on? Let me know in the comments, and I will see about adding it to my list of upcoming blogposts in this series.

About Author

Hannah E. Griggs

Hannah E. Griggs is a teacher and author of primarily middle-grade Christian fiction from Texas. She loves card-making, history, and coffee. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her building her education business, reading Christian fiction and biographies, or improving her guitar skills.


  1. You made a lot of good points. I agree that both options have their perks and disadvantages. I tend to read eBooks more at night because it’s just easier than using a book light.

  2. Thank you, Virginia! If I’m reading in bed, I usually do e-books more too.

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