Paper or iPad? The Battle Between Traditional and Digital Books

One could say that this battle is the old versus the young.

One could say that, but really it’s not that black-and-white. It’s not that books are old-fashioned and those with E-Readers are left behind. In fact, found that a higher percentage of the over-55 demographic owns an e-reader than 18-24 year olds. Simply put, it’s what readers want to get out of their experience.

Personally, I am someone who owns a E-Reader/Tablet (an Amazon Kindle Fire) and I really love what it has to offer. It’s certainly more than the standard Kindle, with its options for video, apps, and mobile internet, but I primarily use it for reading. While I’m very happy with what I bought it to do, there are definitely some things I miss about traditional books.

So let’s see who might win this battle.


Traditional – “Having fun isn’t hard, if you’ve got a library card,” something Arthur taught us so well. As long as you’re on time, checking out books from the library is naturally less expensive. If you want to buy new books, there are plenty of places where you can buy them cheaper than retail place. Plus, there’s resale value…but also bookcases.

Digital – Depending on what type of features you want, the size of your display, and whether or not you want a top brand name, you could theoretically find a cheap e-reader or tablet. Compared to new books, eBooks are about the same: sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive.

WINNER: Traditional – the resale value is a huge factor here.


Traditional – All about location and your friends. If you’re close to a library or store, then it shouldn’t be a problem. If your friends have books you want to read, it’s not a bad deal either.

Digital – With my Kindle Fire, I could probably accidentally order 500 books in 2 minutes. Because of the internet, it all can be done with one click.

WINNER: E-Reader – for the lazy, this is a dream come true.


Traditional – Fans of traditional readers love covers and when it comes to offline stores, covers essentially point-of-purchase ads. Part of a book’s visuals in this battle is based off of digital’s own appearance. Font size, spacing, and page dimensions all vary, for better and for worse.

Digital – For electronic-paper displays, there is essentially no difference. The page sizes are smaller and the text is always very readable. For non-electronic paper displays, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire, the book reads like pages from a computer screen, and doesn’t give the full book-reading experience.

WINNER: Push – I feel like traditional fans would not like this. However, digital readers make reading easier on the eyes with a standard font size. You also don’t completely lose the cover effect here.

Tactile Factor

Traditional – “The smell, the feel of turning pages, the first opening of the book!!!” “The bent pages, the cover that won’t close, the dust and dirt…”

Digital – “How light is that tablet? Let me hold it! Woah…”

WINNER: Traditional – Once you get over the wonder of a digital reader, traditional wins in a landslide.

Green Factor

The New York Times went over how green an iPad is and found out that…

WINNER: Traditional – Go walk to the library.


Traditional – Companies like Amazon and Apple do so many things, so do they really need the business? Support small local bookstores and yard sales and bookcase makers. It’s American. Plus, wouldn’t book collectors become a thing of the past if we stopped buying physical books?

Digital – A lot of e-readers have other components, so it’s not all about the reading. Digital devices also have time to improve and don’t require the space that physical books do. BUT THEY DON’T HAVE REAL PAGE NUMBERS.

WINNER: Digital –Keeping away the clutter is important.


No matter which side you pick, you’re missing out something on the other side. Convenience is huge for digital devices, but they take away the reading experience that practically everyone grew up with.

If I had to pick, I’d say stick with TRADITIONAL, at least for a little while, and I’ll stick with my E-Reader.

For Everything I Didn’t Cover, Here’s an Infographic:


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