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Paper Books, eBooks, or Audio Books?

For this week’s Monday Question, I thought I’d yet again dive into the controversial waters of ebooks versus traditional books, with a twist.

If you could only “read” books in one format for the rest of your life, would you choose paper books, ebooks, or audio books? Why?

I prefer the paper book. In fact, I’ve read all 75 novels from this list in a paper book format, so I’m totally fine continuing to do that for the rest of my life—as long as paper books don’t go the way of the eight track cassette.

I don’t mind ebooks, and I won’t hate on you for using them, but I just don’t enjoy reading in that format. As for audio books, I simply can’t. Just can’t. I’ve tried listening to audio books on several occasions and I just can’t do it. My ears hear the narrator but my mind is way off somewhere else—watching out for deer on the side of the road or thinking about the Georgia game this weekend.

So that’s where I stand. I’m paper books all the way.

What about you?

If you could only read books in one format for the rest of your life, would you choose paper books, ebooks, or audio books? Why?

Check out past Monday Questions here (there’s only one so far).

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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66 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve been e-book for five years and I hope I never, ever have to go back. I’m sitting on a beach in Thailand, and I just finished my book and want to start the next one…no problem, I can just borrow 12 new books from the local library in Washington for free and read instantly. I’m sitting on the beach in Bali, and I want a new book to read…no problem. I’m sitting on the beach in Taiwan…I’m sitting on the beach in Mozambique..I’m sitting on the beach in New Zealand.. I’m stuck on a 40 hour hard sleeper train ride through western China and I want a new book to read…and yeah, endless…free…instant…and I don’t have to lug them all around in my backpack. Endless. Free. Books. Instantly. That I don’t actually have to carry around or give up space in my pack. Or ever have to think about a misplaced book mark. Or need a pencil to underline. What was your question again? Because, seriously, why would I ever go back to reading paper?

    Liked by 4 people

    October 27, 2014
    • Brandon #

      Which ereader do you use?

      Like

      October 27, 2014
      • Kindle Paperwhite. My husband and I are actually on our third each. We started with the first generation Kindle.

        Like

        October 27, 2014
        • Brandon #

          Cooool….that’s the one I’m thinking about getting. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

          Liked by 1 person

          October 27, 2014
          • We both absolutely love them! I come from a family of readers, and have read nonstop since I was 4 yeas old. My family home had a huge library, and I’ve always loved libraries and books. But I don’t even like reading paper books any more. My whole family has made the switch. My Mom loves her Kindle Fire, and our son and his girlfriend are both Paperwhite readers. Best money we ever spent. You should check and see if your local library uses Overdrive. I can borrow books anywhere in the world. It is so great if you live overseas especially. But it’s just great for everyone.

            Liked by 2 people

            October 27, 2014
  2. Book

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  3. Dano

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  4. Brandon #

    Paper books, definitely. I’m not opposed to ereaders–I’m thinking about getting a Kindle to keep in my satchel for when I’m waiting for an oil change and I forgot a book–but I’d definitely go with paper books if it’s an either/or option. The experience is totally different. The feel, the smell, the weight, the sound of pages turning…. Plus I’m a margin-marker, and I haven’t found an ereader that’s conducive to doodling thoughts next to interesting passages.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  5. oops paper would work

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  6. I dislike hypothetical questions like that and won’t answer it. It’s horses for courses.

    If it’s a purely text-based book then I prefer ebook or audio. Audio has some glorious advantages since I can listen to them at work while programming (can program while listening, can’t design). However, audobook enjoyment is heavily dependent on the narrator. With an ebook you provide your own voice.

    (As an aside, a colleague at work can’t cope with reading my books, not for the content, but because when he reads them he hears my voice narrating.)

    For more artistic books, paper is king. I have yet to see any tablet or computer which can really handle an art book as well as a paper version can. Even my book covers, not exactly works of stunning art, are rendered at 4000 pixels on the long edge. Squishing that down to fit on a computer screen loses a lot of detail and on a tablet… yeah.

    Another factor, whoever, is availability. Ebooks are generally available world wide to anyone who can get to a computer. Audobooks suffer from rather random availability because they may or may not get converted from text. And paper books are subject to the vagaries of both distributors and bookshops. Sometimes ebook is what you can get.

    So, if I had to pick one format for the rest of my life… I’d be in someone’s dystopian fantasy world. Let me out.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  7. Reblogged this on Human Interest and commented:
    If it was up to me, paper books would exist forever. When it comes to books, I love to keep it traditional. Also, I need the actual physical copy of a book in order to enjoy and appreciate the work. To be honest, I wish I can put a stop to all of these e-books because at this rate, traditional books will no longer exist…

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  8. While I use all three mediums (audio the least though- only for the car), I think I would choose paper if I had to choose one at all.
    There’s something about paper books that mean more to me than ebooks. The physicality, colours, textures, smell… not to mention my house would look very naked without them.
    Ebooks are fine, great even… but not quite there for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    October 27, 2014
  9. Paper, if I had to choose: that way, in the event of an EMP, I’d still have something to read 🙂 Having said that, I’m on my second Nook, and the Kindle app on my phone–to read or listen to books on my kids’ Kindles–has been great in a pinch. Audiobooks are great, even for ADD folks like me: sure, I miss a sentence or two, but I may catch things that elude me on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  10. Reblogged this on A Few Busy Nothings and commented:
    I was bought a Kobo ereader as a present a few years ago and use it regularly, but interchange my book purchases between digital and paper copies. Whilst I adore the feel of a hefty book and find it much more comforting to settle down with a paper copy, the Kobo store is often cheaper for the books that I want – so I use both!
    Confession: on occasion, I have found a paper book copy of a book I’ve already read on my ereader in a charity shop, and bought it so that I can have both versions!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  11. uju #

    Paperback. Ebooks hurt my eyes alot and in can never seem to get a very comfortable reading position as i would with a paperback.

    As for audio books, I don’t think there’s any narrator as good as myself, and I am a visual reading. It’s easier to make sense of words if in can view them.

    Then I’m very traditional and a loyalist lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  12. Tanja #

    If I had to choose, I’d choose paper books. I read a lot of ebooks too, but paper is just somehow more comfortable for me. But if I gave up ebooks, I’d definitely miss the search function my ereader has. I have never listened to an audiobook completely – I usually give up after a couple of chapters. I can’t get used to someone else deciding the reading speed.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  13. Paper books. All about tradition and sticking with what has endured the longest. Keep it simple.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  14. Reblogged this on The Happybubbles's Bubble.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  15. Alexandra #

    I like paper books the most because they are just easier to work with, you don’t have to worry about your device losing battery life, plus I enjoy knowing that I’m getting closer to the end. E-books are SUPER convenient, you can have multiple books all on the same device in the palm of your hand, BUT- at least for me- sometimes staring a screen too long hurts my eyes. I haven’t gotten into audiobooks (I only have one) and its primarily because I don’t have the attention span for it. My mind wanders waaaay to much to give it my full attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  16. Indigenous #

    Reblogged this on Veeru Popuri's blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  17. EddieB #

    I like paper and ebooks. But if I had to choose I would go with ebook. Some days when I pick up a paperback and even some hardbacks, the print is just SOOOO small. With my Kindle I can adjust the font size, making it much easier to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  18. Susan #

    Paper books, if I had to choose. But I’d miss my kindle app and audiobooks too. Audiobooks do take some adjustment – listening for extended periods is a different skill set than reading, but having a good book to listen to makes my commute (an hour each way) and chores go by a lot faster.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  19. It’s hand-held books for me forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  20. I was always a die-hard paperback fan, and ebook detractor. However, more and more I find myself a hard convert to the ebook. I use the Kindle Paperwhite and I don’t think I will ever be found without at least one book on the go at a time. The sheer convenience of the reader is just too great. In particular, the dictionary function, I use this at least once per book, usually just to confirm what I think a word means and sometimes when I’m utterly flummoxed by a word. Even as a child I slept with an Oxford dictionary beside the bed to conquer the difficult words and this persisted into adulthood albeit in a much more convenient way.

    I do love paperbacks and will always have shelves and shelves of books to pick up for the heavier end of light reading, but for day-to-day reading the e-reader is my preference.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  21. I uses Kindle but I will go for hardback paper books if only one option is allowed. I can flip a paperbook easily. As a non-native English speaker, audiobooks are a big no-no.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  22. So I read all three kind of books, if listening to audiobooks can be considered reading. They have their own time and place.

    Audiobooks are great for the amount of driving that I do. However, I can easily live without them in my life. Paperbooks are my favorite but when limited to paper books, my reading generally reduces, simply because i am lazy and tend to forget to take it around with me all the time.

    About 2 years ago when I started reading again, after a few years of hiatus, I started with ebooks and they have been great companions. I prefer to read on my kindle paperwhite till i broke it. For the time being I am reading on a kindle fire, but it too heavy to lie and read as i doze off. Its difficult to get comfy with. I’d go back to the paperwhite as soon as I can get someone to present it to me. Looking forward to the holiday season for that.

    But if i had to choose just one for the rest of eternity, I’d go with ebooks. The ease of getting / buying / borrowing books is just too good to be true.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  23. I’d choose paper books though I bought an e-reader just this month. Paper books offer me a special feeling I’d never want to miss. The smell of the pages, the tiny noise when you turn them, the way my hands cling to them when the suspension is almost unbearable. I bought the e-reader because it is a useful tool for reading on the way. But my heart and all my love will always belong to paper books.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  24. Mom #

    Gotta vote paper. I often buy ebooks for the immediate gratification and to start reading NOW. But, I admit to co-ordering the hard copy (hardback whenever available) to be able to finish up with and to keep on the shelf…or to be able to browse through later. That’s probably a sign of some sort of latent hoarder thingy.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  25. I would go with an ebook. I love audible and paper too but in caring for people who are older I’ve noticed that the weight, font size and having to turn the pages can stop them from reading. An ereader is light, can adjust the font, can even read it to you if you have whispersync. If I have to pick something for the rest of my life I want to take into account those potential future concerns. – Books are also cheaper in this format and easy to obtain

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  26. Dead tree version every time. I own about three thousand books.

    Liked by 3 people

    October 27, 2014
  27. Nathan Bernard #

    I would have to go with paper books. I used to read more ebooks when I lived in europe and couldn’t get english books that easy. But I just never got used to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  28. Paper books. I don’t use audio books or an e-reader right now and I’m really ok with continuing on with that. I can see why people may gravitate to an e-reader and I can see the appeal of an audio book but neither are for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  29. I read more than just fiction. For example, books about art and photography. I also love books that are hand made in limited quantities, each one an exquisite work of art. In fact, I’ve just recently blogged about hand made books. So, if the publishing world remains as is, I’d opt for paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  30. I love this question. It’s kind of like when people ask you if money was not an issue, what would you do with your life. Your answer to this question determines what you truly favor. I love my e-reader, but I admit I have not been sucked in. Mainly because there are always those books I will return to and I would like to write notes in them and highlight my favorite passages. Sure, I can do that on an e-reader, but it is not as accessible later. I would choose paper books.

    I never listen to audio books.

    An example of why I did not choose e-readers would be my Bible. I read my Bible every day. I have it on my Nook but I almost never read it on there for the same reason I mentioned above.

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  31. Paper books. I have an ereader for when I go on planes, but even then I bring a paper book anyway. I’ve only ever listened to one audiobook and that is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which I used to listen to when I was younger when I would go to bed. So yeah, paper books

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  32. I notice you didn’t include hardbacks in your survey. Interesting question. I think that when paperbacks began to sell that there was resistance from some readers. I don’t do well with audio books. Never can remember what I read. I probably would go with eBooks. I read everywhere and I find that paperbacks are hard to hold when I eat my lunch at work. I keep losing my place. And I can do well with an eReader, standing in line reading. Also I tend to read more than one book at a time. It’s hard to carry around three or four paperbacks at once.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  33. My initial reaction is totally paperback. I heart paperback books. Worn ones. From the library. BUT I live in a Spanish speaking country where the closest library is over an hour away and seriously lacking in actual books, especially actual books in English, which is the language in which I prefer to read books. I bought my Kindle before spending 3 months in South America and during that time I fell in love with it. Before that I was staunchly against ebooks. But now I totally get the value of them. Which is why if I had to choose I’d choose ebooks because they are always available whereas new paperbacks to read aren’t Google-able and instantly downloadable.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 27, 2014
  34. …only one option for life? PAPER!

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  35. Reblogged this on The Book Ends.

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    October 27, 2014
  36. Reblogged this on All About Books.

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    October 27, 2014
  37. I definitely am a paper book person! Love the smell which of course goes away after awhile but it’s something attainable that I can keep(or not keep if I didn’t care for the book) and remember more than what the book is about its the memory of where I was when I was reading it and why I picked that book and what I felt/thought/said about it later.

    Like

    October 27, 2014
  38. Cracking open the (then) brand-new, hard-bound copy of “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” by David Mitchell was as close to reader ecstasy as one gets. But over the past two years, all my reading has been on the iPad. All the other posters who love the e-book format have given the same reasons for preferring the digital format that I would give here. I would just add one thing: after re-reading The Great Gatsby for the twentieth time, but on the iPad, I truly believe we shouldn’t be cutting down ANY more trees to print books.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  39. Real books. Columns of words on a screen are not books – theyy are columns of words on a screen, that make pleasure seem like work. Books are objects of beauty with smell, texture, inadvertent book marks from previous readers and a history. Would rather go to the dentist daily for the rest of my life than rely onan e-reader – the work of Satan.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  40. I am completely for paper books, that is definitely the only option for me! I have tried reading on an e-reader and it’s just not the same as reading a physical paper book. I did not enjoy the reading experience as much on an e-reader. As for audio books, I find it is harder to really engage with the story and makes it a lot easier for you to “zone out”.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  41. Oh, I could never do just one. I rule out audiobooks automatically – listening to a book just doesn’t seem right, I want to be able to flip pages.

    I favour ebooks for the convenience of carrying a small library in my bag, and paper books, as others have said, for the experience of it. Sometimes I find the ebook easier on my eyes – the screen makes it easier to read and the options to change font are really useful; still, there’s something to be said for the character of a well-read paper copy.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  42. Marie #

    I honestly can’t choose. I love paper books and I’d hate the thought of never reading one again, but there’s so many advantages to ebooks. Generally, they’re cheaper, they don’t take up space in my house, you can buy them anywhere and the actual ereader itself has useful functions like the dictionary, the search function and the ability to highlight passages, which I wouldn’t do in paper books because I like to keep them pristine. Since I starting reading ebooks, I’ve been reading a lot more. Having the Kindle apps and Google Play books on my phone, computer and tablet means I *always* have a book with me. It also makes me more likely to re-read books, which makes me feel like I’m getting more value out of them.

    It took me a bit of time to adapt to ebooks – the first one I ever read was ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and initially, I felt like I hadn’t really read it. But once I got used to reading from a screen, it was a different story. No pun intended.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  43. E-books make my life easy, but I love my collection of paperback and hardback too. I will say I’m right there with you on audio. I simply cannot. I’ve tried and I do not like it!

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  44. shanechall #

    Audio books are not for me at all, so that’s out. Between ebooks and paper, I’d have to vote for ebooks, as long as I can read them on a computer. Being able to control the size and brightness of what I’m looking at is a big plus that I wouldn’t give up easily. With physical books I often get frustrated trying to find a good position for lighting and comfort.

    Like

    October 28, 2014
  45. This was a topic for my research at the university this year. Honestly, there is nothing that can beat the smell of the paper and joy of stacking my collection in the shelf. E books are in vogue but the paper book is an all time favourite. The audio book is a no – no.

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  46. For the rest of my life? I’d have to go with ebooks. I love the feel of a real book, but ebooks give me options like looking up words, highlighting and making notes. I must admit, if I’ve been on the computer all day, popping open my Kindle often seems to tire my eyes out, but I can increase the font size! 😉

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  47. I’m a paper book lover through and through. I love ebooks when I travel. I hate the thought of being without a book, so they make packing a lot easier, but this is only ever a few weeks of the year. I love owning books, I love how they look on a shelf, I love bookshops, and most importantly I love reading them. I like being able to pick my favorite books up, and quickly flick through the pages and catch snippets of my favorite quotes. Ebooks are great, but they just aren’t quite the same.

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  48. Paper books for me. I have a kindle and I do use it but I still also buy many many many paper books also. As convenient for space saving and travelling as ebooks are, they are just not the same as a real physical book. They don’t have the smell, the feel, etc.

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  49. maivdiblo #

    Traditional books (paper ones) are important; you create it with feeling; publish it with pride and read. That’s what the brain is for.

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  50. antonyisaias #

    I find this question very interesting, but there’s actually neurological differences between reading on a screen and reading from paper, and this is to do with the way our brain processes information – it’s all to do with our bi-literate brain. I wrote an article on this subject, I’d love if you could check it out! http://lenovelexperience.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/paper-vs-screen-the-real-difference-between-books-and-kindle/

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  51. antonyisaias #

    Reblogged this on The Interme.diary and commented:
    Awhile ago I wrote about the neurological differences between reading from Kindles vs. paperbacks. But what about personal preference?

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  52. I think I’m one of the few people who prefer ebooks to print books. I like being able to read on my side and I don’t get that worried feeling that I’ll damage the book by accidentally ripping or bending parts of it. I don’t care about the whole “oh, but books SMELL so good, and they look nice on my shelf!” argument; the aesthetics of books don’t matter to me. And as for audiobooks, I’ve tried them but I don’t think they’re for me. Maybe if I were going on a road trip.

    Like

    October 29, 2014
  53. I’d go for paper books, definitely. It could be because, as an Antiquities student, I am used to very old books that I absolutely adore.
    Anyways, I do not forget that we are entering a new era about books and about the way we behave towards the book world: i.e. the new world of e-readers and all their consequences.
    I agree with all those who say that e-books are super easy to download, read, bring with you: I use my Kindle not only to keep books but also to keep my notes for university; so, I mean, e-readers can be extremely useful.
    But what about having your super-favourite book lying on a shelf, ready to be read another time? What about the smell of a book? Or what about the effect of seeing the book you got as a present from a very old person with all notes and writings inside? I think books are real companions of a life, and I would definitely go for real, touchable companions.

    Like

    October 31, 2014
  54. I would definitely choose paper books and I’m glad to hear you would as well. There’s just something about the physicalness of an actual book that I will never fully be able to do without. Books need that texture, smell, size, shape, to truly come alive. I own a Kindle and read lots of ebooks as well, but it’s never the same.

    Like

    October 31, 2014
  55. dr35m3r #

    Paper. I’ve only ever read books on paper as I love the feel of a wrinkled spine and flicking through each page. I’ve always felt that e-books seem more passive of an experience.

    Like

    November 3, 2014
  56. Paper. I am the same way, I’ve tried audio books and I just can’t. I’ve read a few ebooks, but I just don’t enjoy the experience as much. Often while I’m reading I’ll flip back and forth through my book to reference parts in the past, watching all the pieces fall into place perfectly, which is extremely complicated to do on an e-reader. I understand people liking the convenience of having their entire library with them at all times, but I don’t mind bringing 4+ books all over the place with me. So I am paper all the way.

    Like

    November 5, 2014
  57. Paper, of course. I love the smell of books

    Like

    November 9, 2014
  58. Reblogged this on Reader Reviews & News and commented:
    I really like this blog…

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    November 20, 2014
  59. well, i love books, reading is a big hobby for me but i don’t have the time anymore so Audiobooks has taken that place…i don’t like all narrators but the good ones make me feel like i am in the theater…Hatchet audio makes very good audiobooks, so yes, Audio for me….

    Like

    November 27, 2014
  60. Ever since purchasing my Kindle Paperwhite, I can never go back to paper. I love carrying around many books for reference and the highlighting feature is amazing. Plus, as I travel the world, it’s easy to get new books at a moments notice which I have done many a time.

    My 2nd choice would be audiobooks which I listen to while driving. These, at times, make traffic a joy because I get to hear a little more of a story before arriving home. 🙂

    Actual paper is just too heavy and cumbersome when compared to my Kindle so the only time I read paper is when it’s the only medium available.

    Like

    December 29, 2014

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