Printed Books vs eBooks

A couple days ago, J.D. Bentley discussed his reasoning behind any purchase of an ebook over a printed copy. He prefers ebooks when they are:

  1. Cheaper
  2. Not dependent on layout
  3. Not available as a printed artifact

I hadn't ever really put much thought into my ebook purchasing habits before reading his piece, but I've since concluded that he and I think alike in this respect.

Most of the books I buy are text-only, and as a result, most books I purchase are ebooks. They're convenient, nearly always cheaper, and they save me from feeling bad about needlessly wasting paper when I have devices perfectly capable of displaying simple blocks of text.

Of course, there are also books that I find worth owning hard copies of, something J.D. touches on:

"This also touches on the third point about printed artifacts, which is to say, books worth looking at. I appreciate beautiful printed books, well-designed physical objects."

Couldn't agree more. I love the look and feel of a well-designed book, and most of the time I'll opt to spend the few extra bucks in order to have one on my shelf. What can I say, I enjoy bookshelf porn.

It's not always about beauty for me, though. I also enjoy owning physical copies of books closer to my heart, especially ones I grew up with such as Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Wheel of Time series, and the Harry Potter series. These are the kinds of things I'd like to pass down to my son whenever he's old enough to appreciate them.

The way J.D. and I differ is that I typically don't take layout into account when purchasing a book the way he does. I've yet to come across any ebooks that have presented problems for me in terms of format, and if I think format will be an issue, I attempt to obtain a PDF copy so that the original layout is preserved.

Obvious exclusions from this rule are books full of artwork, such as graphic novels or collections of an artist's work. I always opt for physical copies of that sort of thing.

The only real problem with my current setup is that I haven't settled on where I want to keep my ebooks. On my iPhone, my ebook library is pretty evenly split between and, leading me to often forget where a particular book is saved.

I'd rather keep everything in one place, but switching wholly to either app will require re-purchasing some books and I haven't wanted to make that leap just yet. Someday, though.