Why Do We Read Printed Books?

It might be for reasons that aren’t so obvious

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Why in the world are we still reading printed books? They’re heavy, more expensive, and take up so much space. With the advent of ebooks, all you need is a tablet and you can practically carry around a library. Yet people are still reading printed books and by a surprising amount.

There are various papers and blogs about why people are still buying print books. I wanted to share some personal reasons why I believe people are still reading printed books.

  1. Printed Books: You can see and also feel your progress
Photo by Will Tarpey on Unsplash

When you read a book, especially a long book, it feels like a journey in a way. When you first open it, you have a huge chunk of paper behind your first page. But slowly as time goes, little by little that huge chunk gets smaller. You can see your progress and also feel it, measuring that chunk of paper behind the page you’re reading. Often I would find myself flipping through the remaining pages thinking ‘almost there!’ or ‘woah…this is a loooong book’.

Although this might seem trivial, I think it contributes a lot to the experience of reading. In an ebook, you might be able to see how many pages you have left in numbers, but you can’t feel the remaining pages or properly see your progress. Thus the satifaction of finishing a print book is so much more satisfying than finishing as ebook.

2. Printed Books: There’s a certain sense of ownership

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

When I buy an ebook, it never really feels like I own this book. It might be because the transfer is instantaenous; I would press a button and instantly a book would be in my PC or tablet. More so, it might be because it doesn’t have any physical presence and I can’t really touch it. This goes the same for film photos and digital photos. Even if they’re the same picture, a film photo has a different sense of feel to it compared to digital photos and it probably is because you can physically touch a film photo while digital photos exist in your phone or on your computer.

3. Printed Books: Are so much easier on the eyes

Photo from Shutterstock

This is a perhaps a more obvious reason. We’re constantly looking at our phones and computers all day. Some of the only periods of time I ever stop looking at a screen is when I’m reading a printed book. Reading letters on paper gives my eyes some to rest and also they seem to read much easier.

Reading on a tablet, although I don’t exactly know why, requires more concentration and also strains my eyes. It gets worse when I’m trying to read a book for a few hours at a time. I tried in the past to read an ebook for more than 2 hours but in the end I would have to put the tablet down. Printed books are not only easier to concentrate on but also actually gives us a chance to rest our eyes from electronic devices.

Although ebook are great, I think printed books have a unique sort of charm to it which prevents us from giving them up altogether. I might be a bit old-fashioned but if you offered me the same book in a ebook format or a printed format, I would choose the printed one everytime.

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