Thursday, July 08, 2010

e-Books vs. Printed Books

Which would you choose? Would you rather buy an e-book or a printed book?

Why Printed Books?
They are personal
I have a relationship with my books. I spotted them, I acquired them, I read them, I noted on them, I referred to them and I grew with them. (I was re-reading Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, some weeks ago since I last read it in 1985: I was so amazed reading what I wrote in that book 25 years ago.) I can never give them away. Each book has its story, and I don't mean its content.

They are social
Books are conversational pieces as well. When I have visitors (which is rare though), those who are book-lovers themselves would congregate in my mini library and chat away about books.

They can be a heritage
Some say this but I am not so sure about this one. I look forward to passing on my collection to my son, but would he have the same interests as I have so as to appreciate the collection that I have, and even if he did, wouldn't he require newer editions.

Why e-books?
They are convenient
So far I have purchased the Word Biblical Commentary (58 volumes) and the Tyndale Commentary Series (49 volumes) in CD format. This means I have access to 107 commentaries wherever I go with my netbook. I don't need them all at once but it helps to have access to any one of them wherever I am. The Pillar New Testament Commentary series and the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series are on my wish list. The Baker ones would be the more likely set to get since I only have one of its printed copies. I already have 4 of Pillar's 8 volumes, though 5 new volumes are on its way. I would love to have The New International Greek Testament Commentary series of 12 volumes as well, but the set is expensive and I already own 6 of the 12 volumes in printed copies.

They are text-searchable and easily accessible
This trumps it all. I can search, copy and paste text complete with footnote references, something you can never do with a printed copy. The best you could do with a printed book is to check the index pages. But you will only get what you need if the indexing is of good quality.

So which would you choose?
I am still undecided. I still love the smell and feel of books and the fact that I can easily put notes in them. It is still quite hard to read an e-book but I cannot forgo the fact that e-books are much more practical for me. I am already storing more than a hundred of them in my netbook and iPhone. Moreover, if I put them in my Dropbox, I can actually access them at home, at work, anywhere!

So, the conclusion is I WANT BOTH! But then, it would incur more costs. Sigh...



  1. I've never bought an e-book but I have bought MANY books and I will buy MANY more.

  2. I share your dilemma about eBooks especially the bible commentaries. I also bought the Word Biblical Commentaries and The New International Greek Testament Commentaries digital forms.While I find them useful for searching and cut and paste, I find them very difficult to read. In the end I have both - ebooks and books.

  3. Alex,
    Exactly, but I do not want to end up buying both electronic and printed copies. So I think I will settle on e-Books for reference books and printed for the ones I'd actually read cover to cover.

  4. I mainly like the free-books :)

  5. KB,
    Free books are hard to come by :) If you like photography, let me know, I have a free one.