S.G. Browne

Why Real Books Are Better Than eBooks

I know, I know. We’ve gone over this before. Real books vs. eBooks. Parts I, II, and III. All the sequels. All the reboots. All the remakes. So why am I dredging this up again? Because this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want. Plus I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.

I realize there are those of you who feel that a book is a book is a book, whether digital, audio, or hardcover. I disagree. I feel there’s a definite difference, just like there’s a difference between MP3s, CDs, and vinyl. When you go digital, you don’t capture the complete sound wave, losing richness and warmth that can’t be duplicated no matter how much remastering you do.

To me, it’s the same with books. Real books are warm while eBooks are cold. I realize eBooks are the future and that the future is now, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I also realize that as an author, I earn money from the sale of the electronic versions of my novels. I even have a short story collection that is only available as an eBook.

So I’m not here to say you shouldn’t buy eBooks. Buy books in whatever format you prefer. However, if you are an eBook fan, I encourage you to purchase eBooks from local independent bookstores who have partnered with Google. You can get eBooks for your iPad, Nook, Android devices, and Kindle Fire if you do a side load. At least that’s what I’ve been told. So support independent bookstores rather than Apple and Amazon.

Okay, that’s it for the eBook PSA. Now, without further ado, here are my 10 Reasons Why Real Books Are Better Than eBooks:

  1. Real books don’t run on batteries.
  2. If you spill water on a real book or drop it in the pool, it still works.
  3. Bookcases are windows into a person’s soul. When I go to someone’s house, I’m not going to browse through their Goodreads shelf or their iBooks library.
  4. You can’t sign an eBook.
  5. eBooks rob me of the thrill of seeing someone reading my book out in the wild.
  6. Real books are conversation starters. I’ve never seen anyone ask someone with a Kindle if they liked what they were reading.
  7. Real books have historical gravitas. They connect me with all of the writers who came before me.
  8. There’s no such thing as a Used eBook Store.
  9. You can’t own an eBook. You can only purchase a license that gives you the right to read it.
  10. Real books smell like home.

That’s my argument for real books vs. eBooks and I’m sticking to it. You can take my old-fashioned Luddite novel from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Filed under: Movies and Books,The Writing Life — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 6:50 pm


  1. AMEN!

    Comment by Helen — April 30, 2012 @ 4:08 am

  2. Amen! I prefer real books and love looking at other people’s shelves when I go to their house. Specifically looked for an independent bookstore to buy all the books I wanted for my birthday. I always search the independents before Amazon. Amazon takes the fun outta the hunt.

    Comment by Rachel — April 30, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  3. Yeah. Swell arguement.

    Comment by Megan — April 30, 2012 @ 10:24 am

  4. Thanks for the comments Helen, Rachel, and Megan. It’s good to know there are still fellow real book lovers out there. Huzzah!

    Comment by admin — May 1, 2012 @ 7:11 am

  5. Loved this commentary!!!

    You missed one though, where do you get the interaction with other book lovers on your ereader???? But in a bookstore? All the time!!!!!!

    Comment by Lyn in Tampa Bay — May 2, 2012 @ 4:48 am

  6. Good point, Lyn. Thanks for the addition! And for loving books.

    Comment by admin — May 2, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  7. I agree with you absolutely, especially on 3 and 5

    Comment by Thom Marrion — May 2, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  8. It’s also worth pointing out that some books can’t be read on an E-reader. Take “House of Leaves” for example, or “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller”.

    Comment by Josh — June 7, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

  9. Well, on second thought, Italo Calvino’s could be, but it would make less sense.

    Comment by Josh — June 7, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

  10. By far the best argument i’ve read for ‘why real books are better’. Thank you!

    Comment by Rachael — October 30, 2012 @ 9:51 am

  11. Thanks for the comment and for giving the post a read, Rachael. And everyone else.

    Comment by admin — October 30, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

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    Pingback by Upwardly Social | Battle Of The Books: Print Books vs. eBooks — November 9, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  13. You have valid point, but I disagree.

    Real books are better in certain ways just as ebooks are better in other ways.

    1. eBooks are always available, there isn’t such a thing as “ran out of stock”.
    2. Doesn’t matter if you’re on Italy, if Stephen King releases a new book while you’re away you can get it instantly in your native language.
    3. They never have defects or torn out pages.
    4. You can carry your whole library in one hand.
    5. If you get robbed, the only thing you need to replace is the eReader.
    6. Your device is able to recommend books based on the authors you have, genre and other useful data.
    7. There are no space limitations.
    8. You can read at night, in your bed without forcing your eyes.
    9. Its easy to find the page you’re looking for and bookmarks never slide out accidentally.
    10. You can sneak them in everyplace since you can have them on your tablet, media player, computer or smartphone.
    11. Your hands don’t get tired of keeping the book open.

    And battery life isn’t a real problem, there are some eReaders on the way that are able to run on a couple of AAA for a year without changing them.

    I read real books too and I love the feeling of having them in my hands, and their smell, and all the romance behind them. But I can’t keep up with them thanks to my lifestyle, eBooks are way more suited for me.

    I say real books should never disappear, but eBooks are a very nice and respectable way of reading.

    I know you didn’t intend to be unappreciative but I can’t agree paper is better than digital.

    Comment by Fernando — November 13, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  14. Thanks for the comments, Fernando. They’re well received. And I always appreciate alternate opinions and perspectives.

    Comment by admin — November 14, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  15. Love this! I’m writing an article on why books are better at this very moment, your reasons are great. Thank you!

    Comment by Joshua Campbell — November 19, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  16. My pleasure, Joshua. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Comment by admin — November 19, 2012 @ 8:02 am

  17. I love to walk through a bookstore and browse, but the ones in my area have closed. I don’t want to be forced into ebooks. An e-reader is a mini-computer – computers crash!! Then where are the books? I’m a computer person and have been for 30 years, but I prefer a printed book and hope I’ll always be able to go out and buy one.

    Comment by Nancy — December 16, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  18. Thanks for these great points! I’ll totally ace my AP English argument presentation now! I never thought I’d find enough points supporting real books, especially on the Internet, but I’m glad so many people appreciate real books.

    Comment by Em — January 3, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  19. I think it all comes down to personal preference. You are reading books either way, does it really matter how? I can come up with just as many pros and cons to support ebooks over print. It will always be nostalgic and meaningful to some people, including myself, to walk into a used bookstore or even a new one, but that still doesn’t change my opinion on the subject. What bothers me the most is that people who read only print books seem to have developed some sense of superiority over those who are avid e-readers, even though it’s essentially the same. Print books will give way to ebooks in time, just as digital music took over, even though I do like both.

    Comment by Ryan — January 6, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  20. Thanks for the comments, Ryan. It is a personal preference and I realize there are pros and cons on both sides of the discussion. I don’t own an e-reader because I’m not a fan of reading large amounts of text on a screen. And while I realize print books will likely give way on a larger scale to ebooks, I’m hoping that doesn’t happen any time soon.

    Comment by admin — January 7, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  21. Great article! Great comments and arguments! Thank you for allowing us onto your Blog!

    I love and prefer paper books (hard cover) over ereaders. Especially because I love to highlight; underline; circle words, and even make my own notes, on books I read. I don’t think you can do that on an ereader.
    However, I accept the reality that technology is taking over. If I were to own an ereader, it would be simply because of its portability and “compactibility.” I like the idea of being able to carry my portable library with me everywhere I go. But to be honest, I don’t think anything will ever replace the value of the good old fashiond printed book! Have a blessed day, and enjoy your reading!


    Comment by Scott — January 25, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

  22. A point I never see in any mention of new media vs traditional media is the aspect of filtering. Electronic mediums are full of garbage, anyone with an opinion thinks they know something and thinks its worth sharing and is sure they are right (yes I get the irony here). This happens with the enormous amount of horrible music available for free everywhere, and of course the non-edited sophomoric e-books. Printing a book on paper is not a great practice re: conservation, OTOH, the mere act is a commitment, it requires some group of people to weigh the quality and merit of the content in question and decide if it is worthy of the process of preparing for print, printing, distributing etc. But it doesn’t stop there, a poorly written book is less likely to remain in a library, be kept by someone instead of being left in a cardboard box on the curb. What this all points to is that its mere existence is a sign that there is some minimum level of quality inherent, and the longer a hard copy book perseveres in this world, the more likely this is true. I like hard copy books because quite simply, they are much more likely to contain well written and well edited content. e-books should accelerate this. As paper books become more and more rare, you can be sure that the ones that are still around are so for a very good reason. This is not to say that e-books can not contain great content, its just that there is less of the necessary filtering that prevents ones of lesser quality from being made in the first place. The age of (too much disposable) information. I’ll take less but all good please.

    …and BTW – I am not a luddite. The comments about music refer to quality not style just as the ones about prose do. I love technology and use it constantly. I just wish it wasn’t so good at enabling every second rate creative artifact from having equal virtual shelf space, it make sit much harder to find whats good.

    Comment by yappy — January 29, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  23. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Yappy. The inherent absence of filtering and the quality, or lack thereof, that comes with e-books is a definite argument with merit. There will be those who will argue that the gate keepers, or filters, that exist in traditional publishing is elitist and that everyone deserves a chance to be read, but I’m of the opinion that not every book that is written deserves to be published or even read. Some of the most celebrated authors have the proverbial books in their closets or under their beds that were their first or second or third efforts. And while all art is subjective, there is nothing subjective about an author who doesn’t understand basic grammar or tense or story structure.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Comment by admin — January 29, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

  24. I’ am in Fifth Grade and have to write a persuasive argument. I love books and decided to do ”Why Books are better than E – Readers.” Thank you for all of the suggestions, I am sure I will ace this assignment.
    Thanks Again for the suggestions.

    – Sophia

    Comment by Sophia — February 5, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  25. Glad I could be of help, Sophia. If you haven’t already, you might want to check the reader comments for other suggestions that might help you with your assignment.

    Comment by admin — February 6, 2013 @ 7:19 am

  26. I totally prefer real books. Real books are better. I like being able to touch the pages. 

    Comment by Casey Mcelhone — February 17, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  27. I totally prefer real books. Real books are better. I like being able to touch the pages. I already voted at frinzee.

    Comment by Casey Mcelhone — February 17, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  28. People who keep talking about the smell of books are actually creating a weak argument. I mean, that is not a substantive reason to like books. There are much better reasons. For one thing, an ebook is harder or impossible to share. When I bought real books, other people in the house could also read them and you can also sell them or donate them to charities. Books can be recycled if you are concerned about their effect on the environment. Charging up ebooks and using tons of electricity is not much better for the environment anyway. The only two things I think ebooks are useful for is saving space, and also to use on holiday because you don’t have to take a lot of heavy books with you.

    Comment by Rodney — March 20, 2013 @ 2:30 am

  29. Thank you so much for such great points. i am having a debate in my school and i think it will surely going to help

    Comment by runjhun — January 29, 2014 @ 5:56 am

  30. I can keep reading when the flight attendant says “please turn off all electronic devices until it is safe to turn it on”

    Comment by Regina — February 21, 2014 @ 9:56 am

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