The Great Debate

I am so torn between hard copy “traditional” books and e-books.
I read a lot.  I read for at least 30 minutes every morning, but I aim for 45-60.  It’s the one thing that I can do to relax and focus for the day.  Reading puts a stop to the crazies and the “bad tapes” that I tend to wake up to.  
So where do I stand on the traditional book versus e-book debate?  I don’t know.  I read both and have pros and cons for both.  Sometimes I prefer one over the other.  I can go weeks without reading a traditional book and other weeks I solely rely on my e-books.
Here’s the deal.
I have an iPad, a Nook (with e-ink), and two library cards (Tampa and DC).  And I use all three (four?) frequently.
Let me first go through the differences between the iPad and Nook.  I bought the Nook before my trip to London during the summer of 2010.  (I had been hanging out in the B&N in between crew practices and ended up getting brainwashed by the continuous video commercials playing throughout the store.)
Nook: E-ink technology makes it really easy to read in bright situations like outside by the pool or even in a room with tons of florescent lightbulbs.  It also feels a little bit more like a “book.”  I also like the size of it.  I can slip it into my purse (even with a protective case) and have hundreds of books at my fingertips.
iPad: I have the Nook app on my iPad and I use that (and the Kindle app sometimes too).  It’s very similar to the Nook, but it doesn’t have the e-ink.  I have the two devices synced to my account so it knows automatically if I was on page 54 on my Nook and will automatically open to page 54 on the iPad (and vice versa).  If I already have my iPad with me or need to have my iPad with me, it’s easier to only have one device instead of bringing both around with me.  Sometimes the larger size is good as you don’t have to flip the pages as frequently.
Traditional Books:  First of all, the feeling of it is something that can’t be beat.  There’s just something so great about holding an actual book.  But, I hate that a book greater than 200 pages is bigger than my nook or iPad.  And if I only have 40 pages left, I end up having to carry around multiple books so that I have something to read if I finish.  They also tend to be more expensive to buy, which is why I use the library!!! (I love free books!)
I think the biggest argument that I’ve heard from people online (kind of ironic, no?) is that they like to have a bookshelf at home filled with books they love.  And I completely agree.  However, as a college student who reads a book or so a week, I can’t afford to buy a new book every time.  Not to mention, I live in limbo.  (aka I don’t have a real “home” and I move ALL THE TIME.  Anyone who’s moved in and out of a dorm and has had to lug boxes in a metropolitan city without a car to the local UPS store to mail said boxes across the country knows that having books becomes more of a hinderance than anything.  Phew.)
While in Mexico, I kept thinking of reasons why I did and didn’t like the iPad/Nook/Book.  The pro/con list kept magnifying.
Using the iPad is ideal when you’re in a car driving in the middle of the night because it’s lit up.  Buying a book online but forgetting to download it and not having a WiFi connection while in the car is not ideal.
Getting a drop of water on a traditional book isn’t a big deal when you’re siting on the beach or by the pool.  Having to lug six books around the airport (or giving up extra space in a suitcase) is not the greatest.
Library books are free.  Because they are public books, you never know what you might find (ew) when you open them up and getting new (read: popular) books takes weeks on a waiting list.  You also can’t keep favorites or pass them on to friends like personal traditional books.
Personal books are yours.  You can take notes, fold down the corners, or keep them in pristine condition if you’re OCD like that.  They do require a bit of money and space to store them.
See what I mean?  It’s tricky!
In other news, here are the books I read over spring break:
by Elizabeth Bard

by Holly Chamberlin

by Sarah Pekkanen
Where do you stand on the traditional book versus e-book debate?

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blue-eyed belle

I have an iPad, also. It really just depends on my mood. I read The Hunger Games series on my iPad, but the next book I read was hard copy. I like both.

Emily Wagman

I much prefer actual books, but the fact of the matter is that as a college student it straight up isn't practical to have a bunch of "for fun" books lying around – I barely have enough space for all my school books as it is!


I have an iPad but can never commit to reading on it. I love owning my books because I can lend them to friends, re-read favourites and keep them in pristine condition (because I'm a little OCD like that) and look at them all on my bookshelf because I think the books you read and enjoy say a lot about you so a bookshelf is kind of like a reflection of your inner self.


I often debate this myself! I use the library all the time, but I think it would be so much easier to not have to lug books around – especially when traveling! XO


I just started reading books on my iPad with the Kindle app and I love it! The only downside is definitely the price, but the convenience is worth it. Being a college student, it is hard to find time to go to my nearest library.


Like you I have a Nook and iPad and am in college. However, I have the Nook with the LCD screen so while I was at the pool on Spring Break I couldn't see the type to save my life – I'm considering buying the $99 one with ink look. And my biggest dilemma with all of this is also not having the books to someday put on my bookshelf


I have both an iPad and a Kindle and pretty much have the same opinion! Since I am going to be a teacher, I read a LOT of children's literature. If I read one I love on my kindle, I tend to order the traditional copy off Amazon so I can have it for my class library! I keep a GIANT box full of my books at home!

Whitney @ Everything Happens For a Reason

I have an iPad and my hubby has a Kindle. He absolutely loves his Kindle. I have not bought any e-books for me. There's just something about holding a book that I enjoy. That's how I prefer to buy my books. I do like how Kindles work and are able to store thousands and thousands of books without taking up like no space.


I see the ease of having e-books because your kindle, nook, ipad are not as heavy as real books. But like Whitney said above, I love holding a book in my hand. Therefore I prefer to buy books the traditional way! Where I can have the smell of the book and feel the pages as I flip them.

Mademoiselle Michael

Carly, excellent points per usual! I see the validity of both sides. We're at a convergence point where technology meets literature. To remain out of the digital realm, would actually hurt literature in the long run. Books, authors, publishing houses, etc. do need to have a digital presence to "keep up." That's just the way our world is going.

I am thrilled that folks with disabilities can have easier access to books (and that it's also not difficult for them to have to carry them). I know some people with diseases where picking up several books is too much work for their muscles. 🙁

Part of the experience of reading a book, is automatically turning to the page the last person read over and over again, and has thus been creased in the book. Or, creasing your own pages. Underlining the words that speak to you. It's hard for me to complain about carrying the 4th Harry Potter in my handbag when so many people are still illiterate.

It's my personal belief that books are sacred entities, if you allow them to be. But, that's probably because I've worked in publishing and remain completely biased. 🙂 At this point, I have not (and will not) buy a kindle/nook until my library is more complete.

Anddd I'm done with my dissertation now. 🙂 Carly, thanks for starting the discussion!


I see e-readers as a valuable supplement for actual books, but by no means a replacement for them. E-readers are great for travel or other times when you need to have several books at your disposal, and they also have useful features such as being able to copy and paste highlighted passages (if, say, you're writing a paper and don't want to retype that long block quote).

That said, even as a poor student, I never hesitate to spend money on quality books that I'll have forever. And by quality I mean not only the writing (yes, I do fill my bookshelves with classics) but also the paper, the graphics, if any, etc. So many books nowadays have pages that feel like toilet paper — I don't go near those — or are made with overly acidic material that won't stand the test of time. Also, as a former art history major, I cannot imagine an art album as an e-book.

Of course, I second everything that people have said about being able to feel the book, to be able to flip the pages, etc. I will also add smell to that. Books have a distinct smell all of their own, be it fresh from the press or musty after years of sitting on that shelf. An e-reader simply can't replicate that.

On the whole, however, I prize literature and reading over books as physical entities, so if e-readers bring the joy of reading to a wider audience at the expense of physical books, so be it. Naturally, I'll be extremely sad to see brick-and-mortar bookstores go the way of Borders (which collapsed in part due to its reluctance to embrace e-readers, actually).

All that said, I'll be downloading a few books onto my iPad when I take an extended travel break this spring, but I don't think I'll ever stop adding quality books to my overstrained bookshelves.


I think it's a different answer for everyone. We're extraordinarily lucky to be able to choose whichever reading platform we want. Personally, I have a kindle and it is 100% worth it. Yes, I would venture to say that I may be saving some money and definitely some headaches buying books at full price on it. I go to university in England and it's impractical to carry pounds of books back and forth.

That being said, I still enjoy reading physical books and always will. I don't think there's an answer to which is better. At least, not yet! For right now, my kindle and I are best buds.


I'm more of a traditional book lover and I am thinking about getting either a nook or a kindle when I go to college in the fall.


So torn between the two, like you! I have a Kindle and I LOVE it! I freak when it isn't in my bag, but I downloaded the Kindle app on my iPhone just in case I forget. The app isn't ideal because the iPhone screen is so small, but it works if I forget to bring my Kindle to the gym. I do, however love the feeling you get when you finish a real book. A lot of times I find myself excited to share a book I've just finished with my mom or a friend and then remember that I bought it on my Kindle so I can't hand them an actual book to borrow. I wish Kindle allowed borrowing between accounts! To deal with the light problem, I have the Kindle case with a built-in light and I LOVE it! It doesn't add too much bulk and it runs off the battery of the Kindle. It also turns off after 5 minutes of inactivity on the Kindle, which is perfect because I always fall asleep in the middle of a page.

Rachelia (Bookish Comforts)

Like you, I see the value in both. I'm also a student so I like being able to carry a bunch of books around on my Kobo eReader but not add extra weight to my bag. It's cool how libraries now can let you borrow eBooks which is great and they actually have newer titles to download than to physically borrow.

But, I also still love traditional books. I can bookmark favourite passages, and lend them to friends. Plus, they look pretty on a shelf 🙂 If I think I will really love a book or it's part of a series I will buy a book.

This is a great article about how eBook are about enhancing the reading experience, not replacing traditional books:

I also run a book blog, {Bookish Comforts} so if you are interested, please check it out:


I like regular books, but I mainly haven't forked over the cash for an e-reader yet! But I feel like waiting to turn it on while traveling and worrying about the battery life would annoy me.


I'm completely in love with my ereader, a Nook Color. I probably haven't read a real book in six months, just because it's not ideal when I'm moving to and from college all the time.

I usually read two books at once, so it's nice to bring my ereader around instead of having to decide which one to take with me today. Also, half of my books for my English major. I get most of them for free on Project Gutenberg, which is so nice!

Don't get me wrong, I still love reading real books, but reading on my ereader has become pretty intuitive to me and is just a practical solution for my situation. That might change when I'm out of college and settled down in one place, though.

CT Cupcake

I feel the same way, and have the iPad, the nook, a lib card, and buy books too! I read really quickly, so having a nook and using my lib card is a life saver! After moving 11 boxes of books this summer to my new place,I made the tough decision to pare down my bookshelf.
Glad to know I'm not the only one who gets those early am "crazies " too.

katie lake

I am totally a "traditional" book gal. I can't read for extended periods on electronic devices. I am the same way with magazines. Since I majored in magazines in college and was part of a team that started and built a magazine, I will never be able to enjoy a magazine on a computer the same. There is something so perfect about holding a that glossy pages in your hand!


I am with you on this one. I have a Kindle and I LOVE it. I take it with me everywhere. I love the size, I love having so many books with me (currently have about 200 unread books on it, 180 of them free).

But sometimes you just need to curl up with an actual book- nothing beats a traditional book. I will on occasion buy a traditional book. But to stock my bookshelves, I frequent garage sales and bank charity book sales- you can find cheap books and a lot of them in pretty good condition.

Courtney Elizabeth

I love my Nook, but I miss seeing the spines of "favorites" on my bookshelf, and also the ability to lend them to friends. I just read "The Opposite of Me" for book club and loved it 🙂


I say check your books out from the lib/read them on a tablet…if you love them and find yourself wanting to read them over, invest in buying a copy for the shelf or buy it at a halfpriced books or something. I've actually found I love a book with someone else's notes in it 🙂 Like sharing something. In the end you have a shelf full of books you'll love to grab and read over and over.


I just got a nook over thanksgiving and I love that i can have all my books in one place. My libraries (hometown and college) have a feature to check out e-books online that I love because then I get free books from the library and am not limited by my current location. However, growing up a book worm I love the sturdy feel of real books.


I have a really large book collection and I love it! I reread my books all the time, buy new ones, and am frequently gifted books as well. It feels good to lend a book out and have a friend get just as addicted. But I definitely see the portability advantage of an ebook. I just don't feel as fulfilled when buying an ebook…