In the case of eBooks vs. printed books, have you ever wondered which is better? The answer may surprise you.
Some people might think that whether books or eBooks are superior is an open and shut case. But then again, the fact that you are reading this indicates that there are two sides to this debate.
As a printing company, we certainly like books, but at the same time, we strive to innovate and embrace change, so this requires us to look carefully at the arguments both ways.
First off, in measuring books against eBooks, it is important to define which factors we are comparing. The arguments over the superiority of books or eBooks consist of several categories:
- Convenience and Ease of Use
- Retention of Information/Learning
- Impact on the Environment
There are good arguments on both sides for all categories listed above. Without getting too academic, here is a short list of pros and cons for eBooks vs. books.
EBooks vs. Printed Books: Discover the Better Option
Ease of Use
eBooks can be used in most places, so long as you can keep the reading devices charged. Most eReaders can even be used to read in the dark. It is also convenient to download an eBook since you can have it in seconds as long as there is Wi-Fi or a good cellular signal.
Most eBooks will hold your place, so whenever you open your device, you can automatically see where you stopped reading. eBooks can also contain thousands of books at all times, allowing you to carry an entire library with you.
Books require no power to operate, so you can read them in any environment with light. You don’t need power to “recharge” a book. You can also easily write, highlight passages, or dog-ear pages in a book, although some book lovers may frown upon doing so.
Many users report having more eye strain reading digital editions than physical books. In addition, it is much easier to work with multiple books and sources (for example, to write a research paper) when dealing with physical books. Is it also usually easier to keep track of specific pages or passages in physical books since the pages never change.
Retention of Information/Learning
There are some specialized situations where eBooks outperform physical books. Some of this depends on the personal preference of individual readers. In addition, some readers with physical limitations, such as poor eyesight or dyslexia, may find electronic text easier since they can magnify the font and enjoy some of the interactive features of eBooks.
Many studies confirm that reading comprehension is better with physical books than with eBooks. Although young people may read more quickly on an eReader, the speed and potential distractions of links, scrolling, and advertisements usually mean people remember and retain what they are reading better in physical books. Many readers also enjoy the touch and feel of holding and turning the pages of a book.
Impact on the Environment
Taking it at face value, you would think that eBooks win when it comes to the environment. However, evaluating the environmental impact of books and eBooks is complicated. For one, it depends on how many books you read on an eReader.
eReaders take a lot more carbon to produce than books, so studies indicate you need to read between twenty-two and one hundred books on an eReader to be more environmentally conscious than simply reading hard copy books. In addition, you need to consider that eReaders need to be recycled properly, have to recharge regularly, and contain some toxic metals requiring proper disposal.
When you buy a book, you can get it new or used, and used books are certainly more environmentally conscious than new. Borrowing books from a library is even more environmentally friendly. In addition, when you are done with a book, you can sell it or gift it to the next reader… a feat which is nigh impossible with eBooks. Lastly, if a book reaches the end of its life or falls into disrepair, you can recycle the book.
Additionally, many printing companies who produce books follow “green” printing practices that prevent harmful chemicals or excessive amounts of waste from entering the environment.
Typically, eBooks are priced lower than new paper books. This reflects the fact that there are no printing costs associated with creating eBooks.
You don’t truly own eBooks when you buy them. For instance, if your eReader breaks or your account shuts down, you lose all the books you purchased.
Physical books can be borrowed, gifted, or sold. You can also borrow books easily from the library. Also, in the case of a book that has special value to a reader or is an antique, it can be retained for a lifetime without worrying about eReader compatibility or eBook formatting. Lastly, books have some decorative value as they are placed on bookshelves for later use.
Can You Print An EBook?
Have you written and self-published an eBook, and then you realized that you’d like to have physical copies of your book? Do you want to sell copies or distribute them to friends, family, or business associates? If so, you’re probably wondering, “Can you print an eBook?”
If you’re an eBook author who wants to print physical copies of your eBook project, keep in mind that the process is more complicated than simply pressing the “print” button on your computer. Digital books typically consist of dynamic computer files which allow the reader to change print size, zoom in on images, leave virtual bookmarks, highlight passages, and otherwise interact with their book. Files used to print books, on the other hand, are typically static files such as PDF files created using Adobe InDesign.
When considering eBook printing, think about the following challenges.
The eBook printing process is not as simple as saving your eBook as a PDF file and then printing it, as you must keep considerations such as bleed in mind. Bleed, which consists of an image running off the edge of a page, is a key aspect of printing products such as books.
After all of the pages in a book are printed, they are then cut down to a uniform size, and the bleed is the extra space at the edges of the page that is cut off. Adding bleed in print files is vital, as it ensures that the pages in the printed book will contain correctly-sized margins and that all pages will be the exact same dimensions.
Typesetting is also a serious consideration when trying to print eBook files. The code for some characters in eBook files does not easily transfer to static file types, fonts might not be compatible, and file conversions can alter how the text is arranged on the page.
As a result, you might need to spend hours or days manually typesetting the entire book, finding custom characters, and ensuring that every line is exactly as you intend it. If you’ve ever had to typeset — or re-typeset — a book, you know that this process is a headache!
Many eBooks are protected intellectual property. As such, be sure that you have the proper permission to print an eBook, whether you are the author or not. Many publishing houses control the copyright to their books, so contact them with any questions before printing an eBook.
If you are self-publishing your own book, this task might be easier. Before printing an eBook, consult with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about copyright law and digital rights management and can help you navigate the process.
The Print Authority Can Print Your eBook for You
If you’re feeling discouraged, we have good news: The Print Authority can print your eBook for you and take care of all of the potential pitfalls we’ve described! Our expert team has experience converting eBook files to stable PDFs that contain the correct bleed and which can be easily printed. We convert eBooks into professionally-printed paper books with a variety of bindings, letting you sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful finished paper book.
Which Should You Use?
There are obvious pros and cons for both eBooks vs. books, and both media are in high demand. Interestingly, recent articles point out that sales of both books and eBooks are increasing.
Additionally, there are more new ways of printing and distributing books than ever before. Self-publishing is extremely common, and there are more niche publications than ever.
If you need help with designing or printing a book, please don’t hesitate to contact us at The Print Authority. We have decades of experience and will be glad to help!