To E-Book or Not To E-Book? That is the Question

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By the pool, on a plane, even in bookstores, no matter where you happen to be this holiday weekend, you’re likely to see more than one e-reader floating around. This trendy technology has taken over the literary scene in a big way, even going so far as to put brick and mortar bookstores in financial jeopardy.

Now, since Kindles and Nooks aren’t overly necessary if you’ve got an iPad, my interest currently lies with e-books. I have a strong emotional attachment to paper books, but I’ve wondered: is one a smarter investment than the other?

The answer is yes, but which one fits the bill depends largely on what you’re looking to get out of your books.

Paper books can be bought used. While many e-books and their paper counterparts may have similar prices when new, used books are typically cheaper than buying new or electronic. This doesn’t have to mean that you’ve purchased yellowed, battered, nasty old books, either; used can simply mean that it’s been read once before so the spine may have a crease or two. Also, if you subscribe to a yearly service like Amazon Prime, you get free two-day shipping on certain titles, even when used, so that’s one expense you don’t have to compensate for.

Paper books can be resold or traded. In many ways, paper books can make up their initial cost, as they often become their own currency. Used bookstores, sales sites like and Amazon used books, and trading circles are all ways to make your books pay for themselves.

Not all titles are available as e-books. For instance, on Amazon, I can’t find a Kindle version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Seriously. I thought even God probably had a copy or two of that, so the fact that I couldn’t download it to my hypothetical e-reader is a little inconvenient.

Paper books are clunky and tough to travel with. This is especially true if the title you’re currently into is a long one, or if you like to read multiple books at a time. E-readers are small and light enough to fit in a purse or carry-on. With baggage charges being so high, it’s always good to find ways around extra expenditures.

There are often price discrepancies between e- and paper books. This aspect of high-tech reading hasn't been perfected yet. I was trying to do a price breakdown to see which was more affordable, and found that in some cases, e-books were significantly cheaper, whereas in others, it was vice versa. In still other cases, new book and e-book prices were only a few cents apart, but the price of the title used was significantly less.

Basically, for my lifestyle, paper books are the way to go. I love bookcases, the smell of musty pages, and reading page-turners that actually have pages. However, those in other walks of life may find that, for the sake of convenience, a few extra bucks here and there are completely worth it.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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