The Pros and Cons of Ebooks

Amazon Kindle

Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I'm handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that's reassuring.

Those were the words of novelist Jonathan Franzen, speaking at the Hay festival in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this week. Spurred on by his comments, we asked our followers on Twitter about the pros and cons of physical books versus their electronic equivalents.

The debate sparked some interesting thoughts and opinions. There was a wide range of attitudes toward them, with some Kindle users evidently smitten with their device and its ability to carry hundreds of tomes, while others were less enthused by the current crop of e-readers; as several mentioned, they don't have the "seductive" quality of books.

Here are some of the replies we received on the subject via Twitter; let us know your own thoughts in the comments below. And don't forget to take a look at our own range of ebooks.

Ebooks are so dull and grey and all look the same. They just don't hold my interest in the same way. (@NicolaLucas)

Out of print texts, unstocked journals? E-readers have much to offer historians in long run, esp. students. Don't judge now. (@garreteer)

I'm not a fan either. Road-tested one but I prefer real books when reading history. (@CarolynMCash)

They are not as easy to read, but much improve access in more isolated communities - not everyone is urban. (@mandydinnes)

ebooks are fine for fluff. When research or school is involved I must actively read with my pencil. (@HQSuz)

I want to like e-readers but I just can't replace old fashioned printed books. Heavier suitcases and less choice! (@vaguelyinterest)

I've been using my kindle for my thesis. Great having all my articles/pdfs in 1 spot. (@ValerieBhatti)

Ebooks are a triumph of the medium over the content...Real readers use books (@AndyHoldcroft)

Ebooks & kindles are life-savers for residents of tiny city apartments. What is important here is reading not exhibiting! (@SanghamitraSen)

ereaders are great for fiction & for anything I'd normally buy paperback but they'll never destroy my love of hardbacks (@ginawb)

They are useful in a practical sense, but they don't bring the same joy. (@Ike73)

EBook should be building on book with new features- not copying one (@James_M_Atkins)

We need screen technology to move on leaps and bounds - and I believe that is a long way off (@marklooksback)

Some hardbacks are too large to be practical (e.g. for reading on a bus) Would be nice if hardbacks came with free e-book too. (@Dan_D_Martin)

Picture reproduction is poor in e-readers. (@walkingthefield)

As a student, I prefer electronic articles but no app lets me read, annotate, and mark up ebooks like you can w/ a real book (@SAlexanderPhD)