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Donn King


10 Ways Ebooks Are Better Than Print Books

I'll be honest: I prefer print books. A new book store just opened in our town, and my wife and I were thrilled, spent way too much money on hard copy books. There is something about the smell of a bookstore that just breathes life into me.

But they do have drawbacks, and so ebooks have advantages. Here are a few ways in which ebooks are better than print books. I will have a companion list, though, of ways in which print books are better than ebooks.


    1. I don't lose ebooks.

    Our house is filled with print books. I have some favorites that have managed to go missing. They're probably here somewhere. Maybe. Maybe I lent them to someone. Maybe they were stolen. Maybe I walked off and left them sitting on a café table for a stranger to find (if so, I hope s/he enjoys it and treats it as the treasure it is). For whatever reason, I've never left my phone or iPad anywhere, and if I do, the books are still in the cloud.

    2. I can carry 14,000 ebooks around in my bag.

    While I love the feel, the sensory experience of print books, they do get heavy. If I carry more than two with me somewhere, they get to be a burden. My backpack used to weigh 40 pounds, and I just had five or six books in it. Between my Kindle, my epub reader, and my Calibre library, I have around 14,000 ebooks. Some of them are crap, but I can carry them all with me if I want. Even if I'm going to be off the 'Net for some reason, I can download several hundred of them to prepare for that.

    3. I can make the type bigger.

    Reality: I'm getting older. I would say I'm getting old, but I've already gotten that. Yes, large-print hard copy books are available, but not in every title, and the only way to get a large-print version of a print book I already own is to buy another copy. The ebook readers let me adjust the ones I already own.

    4. I can use the search function to easily find things in an ebook.

    Indexing on print books is not as good as it used to be. Even when a book has a decent index, it's not certain they would have indexed what I'm looking for. Fiction books never have an index, yet sometimes there is a specific item I'm trying to find within a book. If it's in ebook form, the search took make it trivially easy.

    5. I can highlight in different colors without having to carry highlighters around.

    I already carry two or three different kinds of pens around. But it's a cinch that just when I need a highlighter, I will not have one. The function is built in to an ebook, and usually gives me a choice of four colors to differentiate them. I can later filter the ebook to instantly find highlighted passages by color.

    6. I always, always have a device with me, and so I always have a book with me.

    I have to remember to bring a print book with me. The phone goes with me, regardless. I prefer reading on the Kindle app on my iPad, but I'm perfectly OK with the iPhone version, and if I have to wait in line or otherwise get delayed, I always have a book with me.

    7. The cat doesn't pee on my ebooks.

    The cat has no respect for personal property. While he could hypothetically pee on an electronic device, they tend to not be in range, and even if they are, he desecrates a piece of electronics, not any books. On the other hand, his micturations have destroyed some irreplaceable print books.

    8. If I lose a device, the ebooks are all still there.

    As I've mentioned: they're still in the cloud.

    9. I can get an ebook instantly.

    Just a little while ago I read an excerpt from a book in a magazine article. I thought, "That sounds like a book I would like to read in its entirety." I had it, in full, in less than 30 seconds.

    10. I am never at a loss for a bookmark.

    I've always felt guilty dogearing pages in a book, and it has been impossible to keep up with physical bookmarks—I lose them far more often than I do books, thank God. It's easy to bookmark multiple places in an ebook, and then use that filter thing to isolate all the bookmarks.

    11. BONUS: with most of my ebooks, highlights and bookmarks travel across devices.

    If I mark up a PDF or an epub book, it just lives on that device. But if I'm using any number of reading apps that keep everything in the cloud, bookmarking a page on one device lets me pick up at that very same place on another device.

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