Stop! Don’t hate me for asking that questions. Hear me out.
I’m a bit of a minimalist and read almost exclusively in ebook format. This year, while doing some spring cleaning, I donated a heap of physical books to charity. As I packed up some nearly out-of-date reference books, I shook my head at the amount of money sitting in that pile.
Don’t get me wrong—I love physical books. I love to hold them and admire their covers. I adore the feeling of cracking open the binding of a brand-new read, of the smell of old pages, and of seeing the deep creases in the bindings, showing me how many times I read each one. And if I wander into a library or bookstore, I could get lost inside for the entire day!
I began to think of a book I read as a teenager, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Those of you who haven’t read it, it’s about the firemen of the future. Their job is not to put out fires…but to start them, burning books. Will our future have any books to burn?
As I pondered this question, I turned to my newsletter readers and asked for their input. Their responses surprised me! Overwhelmingly, the answer was NO! THEY ARE NOT OUT OF DATE. Their passion for physical books overly evident in their responses. In fact, I felt I may have made some of them uncomfortable for even asking the question.
I had multiple responses telling me about their personal libraries with thousands of physical books. My favorite quote from one reader was that books are his “drug of choice.” Oh, so true!
Some of the other comments that I enjoyed were:
- They’ll come back like vinyl records.
- Physical books have become a treat, since we do so much on electronic devices.
- Come Zombie Apocalypse and we’ll be happy for our library of books.
My readers gave me these reasons (pros and cons) of physical books vs ebooks. Check out what they had to say.
|EBooks are our future!||Physical Books are here to stay!|
|Space saving – the ability to carry around thousands of your favorites everywhere you go. It makes trip packing super easy.||Need electricity – some readers have a short battery life.|
|Reading ease – the older we get, the bigger we need our fonts. Also, you can read in the dark.||No stress – they won’t break at the beach or pool if they get wet or sand on them. Won’t shatter if dropped and not as many worries about being stolen. There’s also the sun-glare issue.|
|Convenient – easy to carry everywhere you go, especially if you’re reading on your phone. You never have to remember to bring it along.||Pricing – the cost of a reading device.|
|Pricing – physical books have become so expensive…especially compared to many ebooks.||Appealing to your senses – Tactile readers feel they’re getting more with a physical book? You can touch them…smell them.|
|Storage – physical books may mold if improperly stored.||Reference/nonfiction books – Cookbooks and other reference books are easier to use in physical format.
|Size – especially for epic fantasy readers, some of the books just hurt your hand if you read them too long. (From being heavy.)||Some place can’t use electronic books. Jails. Sending books to needy places like some spots in Africa.|
Reviewing the above chart, it looks like it was a tie, but even those ebook supporters were clear that physical books had a place.
So…with that said. What do you think? Are physical books disappearing?
Oh, did you want to know my thoughts?
I always look to the next generation. My children don’t have textbooks in school. Is that a sign of what our future holds? I think so. Sure, physical books will always have a place and readers who love them, but I believe our supply of them is shrinking, per capita. But this is just one gal’s opinion. The only way we’ll know is to wait it out.