Here’s a detailed comparison of Ebook Devices vs. Printed (Paper) Books:
- Text can be searched automatically and cross-referenced using hyperlinks.
- A single e-book reader containing several books is easier to carry around (less weight and volume) than the same books (or sometimes even a single book) in printed form. Even hundreds or thousands of books may be stored on the same device. Using removable media even more can be carried around easily.
- Also at a fixed place such as at home it can be an advantage that an e-book collection requires very little space.
- Mobile availability of e-books may be provided for users with a mobile data connection, so that these e-books need not be carried around.
- E-books can allow non-permanent highlighting and annotation.
- Font size and font face can be adjusted.
- E-books may allow animated images or multimedia clips to be embedded.
- E-books allow for greater fidelity in colour reproduction compared to CMYK colour printing (although some e-book readers have only monochrome displays).
- Depending on the device an e-book may be readable in low light or even total darkness.
- An e-book can automatically open at the last read page.
- While an e-book reader costs much more than one book, the electronic texts are generally cheaper. Moreover, a great share of books are available for free, without any charge at all. For example, all fiction from before the year 1900 is in the public domain.
- Text-to-speech software can be used to convert e-books to audio books automatically.
- An e-book can be offered indefinitely, without ever going “out of print“.
- Depending on possible digital rights management, it may be easy and cheap to produce a back-up for the case that the e-book is lost or damaged, and/or it may be possible to get a free new copy if that happens.
- It is easier for authors to self-publish e-books.
- A free e-book can stimulate the sales of the printed version.
- The production of e-books does not consume paper, ink, etc.
- Reading e-books requires an electronic device and software. Even in the case of reading it on a personal computer one already has, it may require additional software.
- A small book is easier to carry around than a typical e-book reader.
- E-book readers require electrical power; in the case of mobile use, the battery can get exhausted.
- E-book readers are more fragile than paper books and more susceptible to physical damage.
- E-book readers can malfunction and e-books can be damaged due to faults in hardware or software.
- E-book readers are more likely to be stolen than paper books.
- Depending on the device an e-book may be difficult to read in bright sunlight.
- Most publishers don’t produce the e-book equivalent of their printed books. In other cases the product quality is lower or it is released later.
- E-books can be easily hacked through the use of hardware or software modifications and widely disseminated on the Internet and/or other e-book readers, without approval from the author or publisher (piracy). This is a disadvantage for publishers, but at the same time an advantage for readers, since they don’t have to pay for reading a book.
- If an e-book device is stolen, lost, or broken beyond repair, all e-books stored on the device may be lost. This can be avoided by backup either on another device or by the e-book provider.
- There is a loss of tactility and aesthetics of book-bindings. Also lost is the ability to very quickly riffle through the pages to search for a particular section or to get a sense of the book merely by sight.
- Screen resolution of reading devices may be lower than actual paper.
- Due to the digital rights management reselling or lending out an e-book may have complications.
- Some books available as e-book cannot be read on some e-book readers because they are not supplied in a format those readers allow.
- While printed books remain readable for ages, changing technologies and less durable electronic storage media require e-books to be copied to a new carrier after some years.
- E-book readers require various substances to produce, and have to be disposed of properly for environmental reasons.