Monday, 21 February 2011

E-Books Vs Dead Tree Media

I think that all of you need a break from my hugely in-depth and informative discussions on the "superb" books I have recently read. Therefore, I feel like having a little chat about the methods by which I actually read books.

I will admit now that I own a Kindle and am a tiny bit of a techno-geek, and therefore you would rightly assume that on the whole, I prefer using E-books to those manufactured by killing poor innocent trees. However, I do still have to use paper books on occasion and therefore I am going to detail to you all my reasons why.
Firstly, let me go over what I love about using E-books;
  1. Storage: I can own & store hundreds of books without having to find a large area of space amongst my daughter's toys. My daughter also sometimes enjoys eating paper, so not providing her with an easy lunch buffet of a fully stocked bookshelf is rather helpful to both my book collection and her bowels.
  2. Portability: When I go on holiday now I don't need to fill half the suitcase up with books. I can fit my entire holiday reading experience in my hand-luggage.
  3. Free E-Books: I love the fact that there are thousands of public domain books out there that I can read for free. These range from the classics to trashy, pulpy, military sci-fi. However, they are all free and they provide me with a chance to own & read novels that I normally would not have read. As a note, to my wife, yes Victorian Era Sci-Fi novels are still classics!! How can you not think the novels by Jules Verne or HG Wells are classics?
  4. Instant Gratification: When I see a book on the internet that I really want to read, there is no longer any waiting for it to be delivered. I can get my reading pleasure straight away and can do it from anywhere via Wi-Fi or a 3G Network.
As I said previously however, I do still utilise Dead Tree Media and the reasons for this are now detailed below;
  1. Libraries: With libraries I can get pretty much any book I could ever wish for on loan with just a small fee to get it delivered to my local library if it isn't already in stock. I do want to note here that some Libraries have started allowing people to loan E-books although mine doesn't, so until then I will continue to use it for printed media.
  2. Availability: Whilst some books are E-book only, there are a lot more novels that have never been released in an Electronic format. Dead Tree Media still has a much greater range of novels for reading. For example, the glory that is Christopher Pike is not really available in Electronic formats. It would be a sad day if someone forced themselves away from reading this literary genius just because they won't use Dead Tree Media.
  3. Price: Due to various issues with publishers which are covered all over the interweb, E-books for the latest novels can cost more than the paperback and hardback equivalents. Whilst I love the ease of use of an E-book, price will still win with me most of the time as I am a cheap bastard.
  4. Location: I love the fact that I can read my Dead Tree Media in the bath, and if I drop it then it just needs to be dried off. I suspect my E-reader wouldn't survive such an event.
There are plenty of other reasons why people might like E-books over Dead Tree Media and vice-versa. For example, my wife is a nutty pro Dead Tree Media fan and has her own strange reasons for this, such as the wonderful smell of books etc. As you can tell however, I like to try and maintain a middle ground here and understand that both currently have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end I can see most of the reasons I still use paper books being whittled away, but until then I will use both as required.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this so please post some comments regarding the E-Book vs Dead Tree Media debate.


  1. Dead Tree ftw imo. So what if im eco unfriendly :P Nothing can beat the feel of a "real" book in your hand. But then again ebook readers are not all bad - I use a Sony PRS 600 myself btw, since taking enough books for a few months away from home is problematic ;)

    Unfortunetly i can also see paper books becoming some sort of luxury item with the current pro-green policies everywhere and those points you mentioned in your text make a compelling argument for any book enthusiast.

  2. I am Dead Tree, but I would happily have a Kindle/Nook/whatever for travelling. (I think I could probably get by with my phone if I wanted to, though.)

    I do not have time to search for statistics at the moment (if there are even any in existence), but I would like to see the percentage of out-of-copyright/free e-books vs. purchased e-books read, because I have a feeling people are going to be much happier (as usual) with the free option. Not that I have a problem with people reading classics, but I think publishers will hit a point (if they haven't already; I've done some reading about this but not much) where the e-book price is too high for most consumers to pay.

    I don't know how much print on demand has started to change the publishing industry, but once that really starts to take hold, it will solve problems like having to pulp whatever thousand copies of _Freedom_ because they sent the incorrect and error-filled files to the printer. (Provided someone catches the mistake in one of the first ten or twenty books printed, anyway.)

  3. Pawel, to be honest, I think E-Books will become more and more popular and it may get worse when libraries sort out E-Book loans. I mean why should public libraries need to pay for large storage areas etc. anymore when they just need a server.

    I think the Eco stuff is over-rated, especially if you are a low book reader. I mean, how eco friendly is it to make the E-readers in the first place?

    Lauren, you are correct, Free E-Books are being read much much more than Pay books. Amazon had to seperate the Sales charts because they were just becoming full of Public Domain books.

    The one advantage for E-books is for Indie Authors. I mean look at all the 79p books on Amazon that are selling well. Print on Demand may help the Dead Tree Media world but I would be surprised if it could get that cheap.

  4. E-Books all the way - replaced my entire collection of dead trees with ebook equivalents last year. Being a londonite, storage space is key!

  5. Oh I can post now - I will never let go of the dead trees I have... but I will also probably get them on my E-book as well. Then, eventually, I will shift them all (the dead trees) to my library at work where other people can enjoy them.

  6. This was a very well thought out post. Yes, everyone seems to have it's place. And yes, for some reason, many publishers are making ebooks higher than paperback.

    Such a strange world we live in.

  7. Why not both? I think that each has its place, at least for now. I love the smell and feel of a vintage, out-of-print sci-fi novel, but ebooks are fast, convenient, fun, and are offering lots of exciting technology and interactivity that print books can't. I've just completed the conversion of my interactive print aviation book to an ebook, which demonstrated the strengths of both to me.