4 Reasons I Still Prefer Books Over eBooks and A Note to Blogger Review Programs

Using my Kindle on my iPad is growing on me, I must confess. I’m reading more and more books that way. But I’m finding that these are mostly books that I read for sheer entertainment value. If I really want to chew on a book then reading it in electronic format is pretty much useless.

Today I am sharing four reasons why I still prefer actual hold-in-my-hand-and- smell-the-pages books over their computerized version. I also will add a note to publishers and blogger review programs.

  1. Organization. For the life of me I cannot figure out a solid way to organize my books on my electronic device, granted that might be from my own ignorance. But nothing can replace book shelves. I have my hard copy books organized in a personal library: with a section for classics, for biblical theology, for systematic theology, for preaching, and so on. My Kindle has no organization.
  2. Ownership. I can’t write on my iPad. Yes, I can use some program like OneNote and use a stylus. But it’s not the same. I need to feel actually ink flowing through the pen in my hands onto paper. I need to see myself scribble out thoughts. I need to mark up a book. I need to be able to draw dragons and trolls and smiley faces on a page if I need to. I need arrows and charts and graphs and question marks and to rip a page if it really ticks me off. I need ownership and I don’t feel that on my electronic device. If I really don’t like a book I can’t throw my iPad. That punishes all my apps and all the other books on my Kindle. I can’t physically throw a terrible book in the trash. All I can do is hit delete. That’s not satisfying.
  3. Others. Yeah, yeah, I know that technically you can share books and let people borrow books with your device. But I’m also a little ignorant of doing that and not everyone in our church has an electronic device. You try getting 80 year old Mildred to read that supper awesome passage from that really riveting book on her new Kindle Fire. Not going to happen. But I can take a book over to my printer and make a copy (with proper attribution of course). And I can let her borrow my book.
  4. Oogling. I have a terrible habit of forgetting about things that I cannot readily see. My office is surrounded by books. If I see a book I haven’t read it mocks me and taunts me. It begs me to crack open its pages. And it does that to other people that enter my office. They spot a good book and want to read it. I’ve yet to have anyone borrow my iPad and scroll through my Kindle books. And even if they did I wouldn’t be smart enough to let them borrow the book. I want to see my books so that I remember them. If not they are lost in an unorganized pile of books that I don’t even feel like I own.

A Note to Blogger Review Programs

First, let me say that it is super kind for anyone to give me a free book. Getting free books is not a right, it is a privilege. But it’s also a responsibility and an agreement. You give me a free book and I do the very best that I can to give an honest and thoughtful review and hopefully help the publisher sell at least one copy so you don’t lose money on me.

Enter the eBook.

Many blogger review programs are going the way of giving bloggers a free .pdf or other type of eBook for the sake of review. And I understand them doing this–it saves them a ton of money and it takes the gamble out of giving away a hard copy. I understand that financially speaking it probably makes more sense not to send me a hard copy.

But I also know that I (and I might very well be alone on this) will not and cannot review a book as well if I only have it in electronic format. If you want your book to be thrown in a pile with other books of which I take no ownership of and always run the risk of forgetting about, then by all means send me an electronic copy. But if you want me to really own that book, engage that book, suggest it to others, and keep it visible, then take the gamble and send me a hard copy.

What about you, dear reader? Which do you prefer?

  • Catherine Parks

    I agree 100%. Just requested a hard copy today for a review because it’s a book I care about and want to really dig into. For some reason I feel like I don’t retain information well when reading an eBook. Not sure why.

    • http://mikeleake.net Mike Leake

      Same here. I think it’s because I cannot use a pin to underline. Like I said in the post, really owning a book helps me to memorize it.

  • NateClaiborne

    I agree too. I think I posted on this a while back and basically explained that I will review eBooks, but not to the same extent as a hard copy. And I will never review a NetGalley file.

  • Andy F

    I do find it interesting that of the 4 reasons given,I would say that the ebook experience surpasses the physical book experience in 3 of the 4 to me.Keep in mind,when reading Ebooks, I read almost exclusively on my Kindle Paperwhite,although I also have a Kindle keyboard,IPad,iphone.I also still love many of my Physical books.

    1.Organization-This is a huge plus for kindle for me.I have 7 collections that are broken up into categories that I find easily accessible.Conversely,in my home,I don’t have much shelf space & what little space I do have,my wife has covered with pictures.My books are stored in 2 cabinets & finding something quickly is a chore.

    Ownership-It is true that you can’t write or make graphs on kindle or iPad.But you can still insert helpful notes I to the text & access them from the Table of Contents.I find that this is an Apologist’s dream.Im not a walking encyclopedia,but with the kindle app,I don’t have to be.I have the Mormon scriptures,Quran,New World translation & many others on my kindle app on my iphone.If I run into someone from one of these groups,I can go to the notes I’ve made and seek to show how they are perverting the truth.

    Others-I do think that Kindle prime is a great way to borrow books,but I can see why some don’t like this & how Ebooks are limited in this way.

    Oogling-Since my physical books aren’t visible to me,I actually have the opposite problem.I have a collection of “to be read” books on my kindle.Since I get many books free,I run across free books & stick them in that collection & hope to find some time to read them.Im afraid the collection is ever growing.

    I realize that this was not an ebook vs physical book post.It was about personal preferences.I think it also must be said that Ebooks are generally much cheaper than physical books.I love my MacArthur ESV,but it was $60.Granted I got genuine leather & gold guilted pages.But the same book is $5 in the kindle store right now.I got the HCSB Study Bible for $2.99 in a sale a few months ago.Some of the most important books that have shaped my faith have been free Ebooks.Berkhof’s Systematic Theology,Boettner’s the Reformed faith,A.W Pink’s works,Calvin’s Institutes,The Reformed Confessions,Augustine’s Confessions,Pilgrim’s Progress ect.

    In short,I don’t think it has to be an either or thing.I love reading on my Paperwhite.I also love reading My MacArthur ESV.But,if I never opened a paperback again,I would t miss it.
    I do find it interesting that of the 4 reasons given,I would say that the ebook experience surpasses the physical book experience in 3 of the 4 to me.Keep in mind,when reading Ebooks, I read almost exclusively on my Kindle Paperwhite,although I also have a Kindle keyboard,IPad,iphone.I also still love many of my Physical books.

    1.Organization-This is a huge plus for kindle for me.I have 7 collections that are broken up into categories that I find easily accessible.Conversely,in my home,I don’t have much shelf space & what little space I do have,my wife has covered with pictures.My books are stored in 2 cabinets & finding something quickly is a chore.

    Ownership-It is true that you can’t write or make graphs on kindle or iPad.But you can still insert helpful notes I to the text & access them from the Table of Contents.I find that this is an Apologist’s dream.Im not a walking encyclopedia,but with the kindle app,I don’t have to be.I have the Mormon scriptures,Quran,New World translation & many others on my kindle app on my iphone.If I run into someone from one of these groups,I can go to the notes I’ve made and seek to show how they are perverting the truth.

    Others-I do think that Kindle prime is a great way to borrow books,but I can see why some don’t like this & how Ebooks are limited in this way.

    Oogling-Since my physical books aren’t visible to me,I actually have the opposite problem.I have a collection of “to be read” books on my kindle.Since I get many books free,I run across free books & stick them in that collection & hope to find some time to read them.Im afraid the collection is ever growing.

    I realize that this was not an ebook vs physical book post.It was about personal preferences.I think it also must be said that Ebooks are generally much cheaper than physical books.I love my MacArthur ESV,but it was $60.Granted I got genuine leather & gold guilted pages.But the same book is $5 in the kindle store right now.I got the HCSB Study Bible for $2.99 in a sale a few months ago.Some of the most important books that have shaped my faith have been free Ebooks.Berkhof’s Systematic Theology,Boettner’s the Reformed faith,A.W Pink’s works,Calvin’s Institutes,The Reformed Confessions,Augustine’s Confessions,Pilgrim’s Progress ect.

    In short,I don’t think it has to be an either or thing.I love reading on my Paperwhite.I also love reading My MacArthur ESV.But,if I never opened a paperback again,I would t miss it.

    • http://mikeleake.net Mike Leake

      Being cheaper is a great draw to eBooks–and honestly, why I’ve bought more of them in recent days.

      Do you know if the Kindle app for the iPad can do the same things that you are talking about (collections, etc.)? As I said in the post some of the problem may be my own ignorance.

      But even with those I think I’d still have the same issue of needing to really have an actual book in my hands, with an actual pen, so that I can do whatever I want to the pages.

      • Andy F

        Hi Mike,I think I accidentally deleted my last post So I’ll try again.Yes,You can make collections on the IPad kindle app.You go to the top right corner from your library home page.Tap the icon & a list will come down.”collections” is the last in this list.Click on that,go over to the top right of the screen & you will see +.Click that & you can make a collection & add books to it.Hope this helps,I thoroughly enjoy your blog.God-bless!

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  • http://christfocusedliving.wordpress.com/ John Coakley, Jr.

    Great article. I am in total agreement with actually having the hard copy in my hand. With everything becoming so digitized, a hard copy book gives me more of an authentic reading experience. Although, the cost and portablility of ebooks is makes using them very attractive.
    Question (for anyone really) – how do you mark in your hard copy books? Pen? Pencil? Highlighter? I am alway curious about how different people go about practicing “marginalia”…which I didn’t know was an actual word until I started looking up this topic! (Hopefully this doesn’t derail the discussion from the original topic. If so, my apologies.)
    Maybe that’s an idea for a later post or a part two to this one, Mike – how you mark up your books.
    Thanks for the great thoughts. Blessings, bro.

    • http://www.glorydistilled.com/ Nick Horton

      I use highlighters where I like what was said, and write notes where I interact my thinking with what the author said. IE, I can ask a question and write it in the book. Or, I can reference something else I’ve read and write it as a note in the gutter or margin.

    • http://mikeleake.net Mike Leake

      Thanks, John. Great question. I use a pen–don’t like highlighters. Pencil doesn’t show up enough and highlighters are just annoying to look at. I use my trusty Pilot G-2 pen. And I underline, write questions, try to summarize the chapter on the final page, etc. An excellent book on reading is Lit! by Tony Reinke. His system is a little more developed than mine (which is why he is smarter) but it’s still very helpful. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1433522268/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1433522268&linkCode=as2&tag=borrligh-20

  • David Antonini

    Paper books. Every time.