Do you prefer e-books or paper books?

Books made from paper would seem to be the preferred choice for textbooks, scientific journals, law books or anything that requires hard core reading.

With a physical book you can flip and flag pages, scan, high-light, underline sentences or entire sections. You can study the included pictures, graphs, tables and charts. You can also pause to look up the meaning of a word in the dictionary, or even write a note in the margins.

Physical books can be beautifully illustrated, both inside and out. Artfully designed covers and gilded edges turn them into collectible items that appreciate in value.

Antiquarian books offer a view into our past and show us how people from a different era thought, dressed and solved problems. They show us our evolution as a race, our progress as a society, and even how problems of today are not new at all. Books of this caliber are often collector’s items or housed in major libraries. They are even bought and sold at auction as investments to preserve wealth, or gifted for special occasions.

On the other hand, when you own physical books you will have to make room for them in your home. You will need book cases in which to store them, and don’t forget, you will need to dust them as well! Physical books can sometimes be heavy and hard to handle, and if the binding is of poor quality, they can start to fall apart. The corners, covers and jackets can get scuffed, stained or torn if they are not handled gently.

E-books have rapidly become very popular for several reasons. The two main reasons seem to be that e-readers can hold a vast quantity of all types of books that you can carry around with you wherever you go.

Another critical factor is that e-readers allow you to change the size of the font. This is vitally important to an aging population with macular degeneration as well as to anyone, regardless of age, that has poor vision. An e-readers allows its user to highlight and book mark pages and there is no place for bacteria to grow as long as the e-reader is kept clean. Finally, no trees were harmed.

But wait! If a book is made available as a paper back, a hard cover and an e-book, is that last statement really true? Probably, not. Trees are grown, harvested and turned into pulp for paper. Is the energy usage required to turn trees into books as significant as the energy used to power all the e-readers in the world?

Lucky for us, there are millions of books that will never be turned into e-books! Older books, books created before the internet age, often generate a huge amount of interest among book collectors. An item’s chronology of ownership, custody or location as well as other factors such as if it is signed by a historically important person, create its provenance.

Those are the books that we used to hunt for on our weekend trips to obscure book stores. Those warm, snug, intimate and friendly little shops were great, weren’t they? You could get lost in one of them for what seemed like days. Have you ever bought a book at an estate sale and found an old letter or note tucked inside? Or, a dated and signed note, written in elegant, precise longhand? These types of marginalia give the book a lot of character!

Photo by Tomas Anunziata from Pexels

The printing press is long gone but In our view, real books are books that you and I can hold in our hands. They have lasting value. What do YOU think? Do you prize your book collection or do you store your preferred reading material in an e-reader? Let us know!

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