Littera Deusto

Modern Languages, Basque Studies and Humanities

Differences between e-books and printed books

julio 12th, 2010 · No hay Comentarios

The development of computers has undoubtedly made an impact on many aspects of our life. In the field of literature, the option to display text on screens has raised an important debate: should we publish books on paper or in an electronic format?

E-books offer a variety of advantages and disadvantages in contrast to printed books:


  1. A single e-reader device can store hundreds of books in a portable format. In the case of students, it would avoid the need to carry around heavy textbooks which often cause back pain.
  2. LCD screens emit different amounts of light, which make e-books readable both in the darkness and illuminated environments.
  3. Libraries or bookshops are not always accesible nearby or open at any hour during the day. With an Internet connection, e-books are acquirable immediately anytime, anywhere.
  4. Using stylus pens on the touchscreen, it’s possible to highlight words and add annotations which can later be erased without altering the original appearance of the page.
  5. Electronic text allows for multimedia content to be embedded. Keyword searching and cross-referencing through hyperlinks would improve the utilization of dictionaries.
  6. Self-publishing becomes easier for autonomous authors. Publishers would benefit from the reduction of production costs as well, which would in turn lessen the prices for the readers.
  7. On the ecological side, paper consumption would decrease.
  8. Electronic text can be converted into computer-generated audiobooks. The wider the selection of e-books, the more material made available for the visually impaired or for those who want to listen to the pronunciation of other languages.


  1. Not all printed titles are available as e-books.
  2. E-readers run off batteries, which will consume after a limited amount of time.
  3. E-readers can break down and are more fragile than paper books.
  4. The downloadable format of e-books make them easier to copy and distribute illegally.
  5. Many people do not understand how to or are not willing to deal with electronic devices.
  6. Overall, the familiar feeling of owning a tangible book, where one can leaf through the pages and leave their personal traces during the process, is lost in e-readers.

Changing a tradition is not simple, and it does not seem likely that paper books will ever disappear completely. Still, with the rapid digital revolution our society is going through, it is not difficult to assume that e-books will sooner or later gain a popular status.



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