Digital or Paper?


How do you prefer your books, digital or paper? I am curious. Surveys reveal that in recent years paper book sales are on the upswing. Millennials, in particular, like paper books.

I get that. There’s a certain feel to a good book. Some even like the smell of a paper book. The reading experience is different. Unlike a digital book, you really see how far into the book you are. Have you ever experienced dread knowing the book is coming to an end? Will the author wrap up the story or leave you hanging? There’s a certain sadness knowing that a good book will soon end.

Paper books are easy to lend to your friends. Often, never to be seen again. Only friends steal your books. Digital books are not built for sharing. As books age they acquire character: pages get marked up, there may be coffee stains, or maybe wine stains in a poetry book taken along on a secluded picnic.

I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t a choice between digital and paper. We had paper, and stone tablets. That was it. Sometimes I think that the only reason I own a house is have a place to keep all my books.

That’s one area where digital really shines: storage space. Having thousands of books available on an electronic device is a huge space saver. Travelers living out of a suitcase or a backpack don’t have room for a dozen books. Since they were going to have a phone or a tablet with them anyway, downloading a bunch of books for the road is a no brainer. Those living in sailboats and RVs are great believers in digital media. Many have completely duplicated their home libraries in digital form.

So which is better? Both? Neither? Personally, I constantly use both methods. A lot of my paper books are out of print and have never been in digital format. Some are so esoteric they probably never will be. However, I travel a lot and really enjoy always having a digital selection of books handy. To be honest, I like that I can have a nice bright screen with good sized text. That way I can pretend I don’t really need reading glasses. Then again, it’s nice to take a good paper book to a secluded spot far from annoying electronic interruptions and dive in completely.

In short, as long as you are reading, it’s all good.

-Raymond M. Coulombe

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