Physical Books or Ebooks? Which is Better?


This is one of those loaded questions because of course the answer to this is both are great for different reasons. So now that we’ve solved that we can move on to other things, right? Well, of course I have more to say. πŸ˜‰ So let’s talk about the pros and cons of physical books and ebooks.

How Ebooks Impacted My Reading Habits

For many, many, many years I was a staunch physical book supporter. I love being surrounded by books, I love the smell of books, I love reorganizing them on my shelves, I like flipping through the pages…I think you get the idea. And so I grew my library, and it grew, and grew, and grew….and I ended up with a very large TBR pile (which is a whole other story). One day my husband bought me a kindle and I was pretty indifferent to it, to be honest. If I have to carry around a kindle then I might just carry around my book, right? The only time I used it was when I was going on vacation and it would save me from having to carry multiple books–then, at least, it was convenient. 

But then things changed. Smart phones! I downloaded a kindle app so that I could read an ebook (there was probably a sale or a giveaway or something that initially triggered this download) on my phone. And at first it was once in a while. Then I got an even bigger phone next time I upgraded and with a slightly larger screen I’m reading ebooks more than ever now. Why on my phone? Because I’m already carrying it with me everywhere so I don’t have to worry about carrying anything extra around with me. Also, it’s sooooo easy to sneak in some reading time when people (aka my boss) aren’t looking. πŸ˜‰ And Romance! I pretty much buy ALL of my Romance books via ebook now–no more anxiety over being judged for reading Romance or buying books with shirtless men on the cover. PHEW. Also, ebooks are on sale all the time! If you’ve followed me for a while and have seen any of my book hauls then you are familiar with how helpless I am against an ebook sale. (Look, I really love a bargain, okay?)

Below are my reading stats when it comes to book format for the previous three years (this is when I started tracking such things).

Books by Format 2017


Books by Format 2018


Books by Format 2019


As you can see, my percentage of books read by ebook grew from 6% in 2017 to 44% in 2018 and then was 41% in 2019. That’s a HUGE change in my reading habits in just a year or two. Does that mean that ebooks are better though? No. Maybe more convenient but not ‘better’. Because what is ‘better’ anyway? Better for one person might not be better for someone else. There are also accessibility issues with both formats to take into consideration.

Ebooks Pros and Cons

– Convenient to carry around
– Can change font size for accessibility
– Often have great sale prices
– Possibly easier to sneak in reading time
– Can read them in the dark
– Easy to make notes, highlight, bookmark, search for passages
– In some cases can synch up with audiobooks
– Don’t have to see your books staring you in the face wondering when you’re going to read them
– Take up less room in your house
– Can be pricey for new book releases (sometimes as much or more than physical book)
– Requires the technology to access, possibly an additional device
– Regional restrictions (physical book might be easier to access in some cases)
– DRM issues for some formats
– Requires charging your device
– Doesn’t feel or smell like a book
– Might miss the thrill of turning actual pages
– Sometimes technology doesn’t work as it should

I’m focusing a bit on ebooks here only because of how much they’ve impacted my own reading, however I still really love physical books! The cool thing is that some publishers are coming out with special editions of their physical copies that make them more collectible. Also, there’s awesome cover art to show off on social media like instagram! I love the sprayed edge trend that seems to be the thing now days. I also love getting cover variants with Owlcrate or other special editions. When all is said and done I do still love to have physical books because being surrounded by them brings me comfort. I also like to have physical copies of my favorites for re-reading purposes. I have a ton of physical books and though I might purge some now and then, I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of most of my library.

To sum up, both ebooks and physical books have their good and bad points but I don’t think one is better than the other! I’m a happy reader being able to utilize both of these formats to their fullest potential. Do you like ebooks or physical books more? Why or why not? Leave a note in the comments, I’d love to chat!

45 thoughts on “Physical Books or Ebooks? Which is Better?

  1. evelynreads1 says:

    I prefer physical books! But e-books really have their benefits, definitely for vacations! But for some books I want to buy them as e-books since they are cheaper or I don’t necessarily need them on my shelves haha!


  2. Jonny Pongratz says:

    Great post! I love physical books but have transitioned to about half of my reads being ebooks. It’s just accessibility really. If I really like a book after reading the ebook I’ll buy a physical copy for my shelves at home.

  3. Tammy says:

    I read both, but my Kindle is only used for review books. In fact, since I’ve had a Kindle, I’ve actually purchased only five or six books, maybe? Over the last ten years, lol. If I’m spending money, its going to be on something with substance😁

    • waytoofantasy says:

      That makes sense! Honestly most of the ebooks I buy are on sale (love those 1.99 sales) or regular price really cheap. With a couple exceptions in the Romance genre–I find myself reading Romance *exclusively* through the kindle app these days!

  4. Bob/Sally says:

    While I love my Kobo e-reader for the convenience of being able to read in bed at night, or (like you say) to carry multiple titles on vacation, I find I don’t enjoy the read as much. For me, mass market paperback is what I grew up on and it’s what holds those memories for me. They’re portable enough to read while I walk, and the slip nicely into my pocket or my bag. It’s the format that still rules my shelves.

    There are entire sagas I’ve delayed reading because I don’t want to lug around a hardcover or big trade paperback. That said, the sort of mid-size paperback format places like Tor and Angry Robot have been going with has proven to be a enjoyable compromise.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I do have a certain fondness for MMP, for the same reason! For a long time I hated hardbacks because they’re so hard to carry around! But now I love them because they look so good on my shelves lol.

      I never thought I’d be an ebook person but I don’t have a problem reading them at all. I actually used to be quite snobbish about it but now it’s so convenient…I sometimes get annoyed when I have to go track down the physical copy if it’s not one I have on my kindle app. πŸ™‚

  5. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader) says:

    I love ebooks more than physical books, it’s just so convenient! I got a Kindle when back in 2015 when I had a long commute to college and I haven’t looked back since. I think this year I have read one or two physical book? And ebooks are so cheap like you I love all the sales! πŸ˜€

  6. Nicole @ Nicole's Book Thoughts says:

    I LOVE ebooks. I can read them so quickly, and they have easier to read fonts which help me not read diagonally. But i also love physical books, purely because of eye strain. I work on the computer all day so being able to put down an electronic and read a page feels a lot better

  7. @lynnsbooks says:

    I love both but kindle is my main form of reading these days, although audio is also picking up (when I remember to plug my earphones in).
    I’ve just completed a tag and one of the questions was this very thing – it’s uncanny how similar how answers are.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    • waytoofantasy says:

      It’s funny because when my husband gave me a kindle I didn’t use it much, it wasn’t until I started reading on my phone that the ebooks really picked up for me LOL!
      Audio is fun too–didn’t get into that here because I had another post about audiobooks a little while back. πŸ™‚
      That’s funny! I wrote this….probably two or three months ago when I had a lot of time and was pre-scheduling a bunch of posts further out into the year. In retrospect I’m so glad I did that because I haven’t had much time/energy to write posts the last few weeks other than my Monday posts. (I have to get on that now though because I’m almost out of prescheduled stuff….)

      • @lynnsbooks says:

        With everything you’ve had going on I’m amazed that you manage to keep your content so great. I’ve given up on the odd occasion just recently which is very sloppy of me.
        I love scheduled posts but I only tend to get ahead in that way when I know I’m going away or have visitors, etc. They lull you into a false sense of security though and then they run out!
        Lynn πŸ˜€

      • waytoofantasy says:

        Awww, thanks!
        I think sometimes I just get in a ‘blogging’ mood and if I have time then I’ll go ahead and work on hammering out stuff for several hours at once and that’s how I’ve managed to stay ahead. I’m hoping I’ll get a day like that this weekend again so I can get more of my December posts scheduled and I may also be behind a a couple reviews…
        But yeah, they do that! I can’t tell you how often I was like ‘oh no suddenly don’t have a post ready, I thought I had more tiiiiimmmmmeeee’ lol.

  8. Zezee says:

    Great discussion. I liked seeing your stats. Personally, I prefer physical copies but ebooks are handy. Less clutter and lighter bag and I can read at night without having to turn on the light lol. But I love the feel of books and beautiful covers. Hate that with ebooks, they sometimes change the cover without even asking your permission. Also, I find that I remember details of a book better if I read the physical copy rather than the ebook. And it’s also easier to remember what physical books I own.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to say if I prefer one over the other. I think I’ll always want a big amount of physical books because I just love having them around! But ebooks are just so convenient!
      Hmm, that’s an interesting point about remembering the book–not sure I have much of a difference between ebooks and physical books but I know I sometimes I have issues with remembering audiobooks!

  9. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    I usually pick up my Kobo much more frequently than I pick up my phone πŸ™‚
    Jokes aside, the possibility of having more than one book at my beck and call, of being able to read immediately any book that strikes my fancy, or to start a new book as soon as I finish the current one are all details in favor of e-readers. Which does not mean I don’t buy beloved books in physical format anymore, of course… πŸ˜‰

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Oh yes, that is part of the convenience! Also when it’s not already on there I can just go right online and see if I want to buy it or borrow and ebook from my library! It’s great to have that especially if you’re a mood reader like myself haha.
      Yeah, well, bookworms haha. πŸ™‚

  10. Susy's Cozy World says:

    Since I bought my first ebook reader I quickly became a voracious ebooks reader. To be honest I prefer the physical books because you can touch them, you can see them on your shelves (and let’s be honest a shelf full of loved books is one of the amazing sight ever!) and they give me more comfort when I am in a bad mood. But ebooks are great because they are cheaper, so if I want to try out a book but I am not so sure I would love it (and it is ok to just like a book!) or maybe is a short short book (it is silly but it annoys me a lot spending much money and shelf space for tiny book, I am a sizecist, if this can even be a word!) I can buy the ebook and be done with it. Also, they are more comfortable to take around with you (and when you read on the phone you can sneak more reading time when no one is watching!! πŸ˜‰) and you can save the space on the shelves for more chunky books and for your favorite!!
    So yeah, all this long comment just to say that I agree with you!

  11. Redhead says:

    e-books sure are convenient! and no one knows what you’re reading and no one can be judgy about the cover art! and a lot of SFF magazines these days are only ebook . . .

    I read ebooks if i have to. my brain does better with print books. maybe i’m just old fashioned?

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I used to think I’d never do well with e-books but here I am reading them like crazy. It’s weird, but nice? I guess I’m so used to reading things on the internet the transition wasn’t actually that hard for me….idk!

  12. Mary Drover says:

    I am definitely a physical book person. I’ve actually only ever read two ebooks, and they were novellas that were only offered as ebooks. I’ve long been this way, and I think I’ll carry on this way forever, too. I spend most of my day on my laptop writing & working, and the idea of then switching to another virtual medium to read is just so exhausting to even think about that I think I’ll always be a physical book person.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I totally thought I’d always be a physical book person but I guess I lied to myself because here we are LOLOL.
      I guess because I read on my phone a lot and it’s a waaay different screen size I just don’t seem to mind somehow. Or maybe I’m weird haha. πŸ™‚

  13. soberpirate3218 says:

    I will always be diehard physical hardcopy, it’s about the tactile elements for me. But that’s not to say I am averse to e-books – indeed, many of the urban fantasies/scifi I love only come in e-book form! The environmentalist in me struggles a little with the sheer amount of paper books I have though, I will admit that.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      I love my physical books still! I buy a lot of them! But it’s also so convenient for me to read ebooks. Also because I’m reading a bit more self-pubbed stuff these days.
      Well….at least the paper is recyclable?

  14. kirti verma says:

    Literally i love physical format because when i read ebook my eyes start paining and then i lose my interest…..however i feel an attachment with story when i read it from physical book

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