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An E-Book vs a Printed Book – Which One to Prefer?

por Merle KOIK
Idioma: EN
Document available also in: ET RO

People have read books for thousands of years, while e-books have been around only for the past few decades. Nevertheless, the theory that the need for physical books will disappear due to the march of e-books still occasionally emerges. From the point of view of libraries, this causes confusion.

I have always favored printed books; and I have to admit that until recently I had read e-books just a few times and only on the occasions when I had to stay at an airport for hours and when there were no physical books at hand. A paper book has many advantages: there is no need to charge it, it lasts long, and it doesn’t damage your eyesight. The ink aroma wafting from a brand new book as you open it makes you feel like something good and exciting lies ahead. When it comes to e-books, the only feeling they have aroused in me is a wish to alleviate horrible boredom. Even reading on an e-reader causes eye strain; and somehow, the feeling just isn’t right either.

However, the whole world changed recently. Due to the need to contain the spread of Covid-19, a disease with a fancy name also called the coronavirus, many libraries all over Estonia are closed right now; and it is difficult to check out books. The need for e-books has increased rapidly also in those corners of Estonia where it didn’t use to be significant. The smaller libraries have purposely not bought e-books since the procedure of checking them out is a bit complicated. Why? you probably wonder. What difference does it make whether we check out e-books or printed books? Actually, the difference is big: when purchasing e-books, libraries obtain a book lending license, which is valid for a certain number of loans – for example, 10 or 20 loans. After that, a new license has to be bought. A printed book, however, can be checked out to the readers until it literally crumbles to pieces. Another big problem has so far been the price of an e-book, which is actually a bit cheaper than that of a printed book but not enough to tip the scales towards the e-book when weighing the pros and cons of an e-book versus a printed book, especially considering the limited number of loans included in the price. So far, a 20% VAT rate has been set for e-publications, compared to 9% for printed publications. However, it seems that things have started changing recently. The Estonian Ministry of Culture is strongly supporting the decreasing of VAT rates for e- and audio publications and media – you can read about it here.
Due to all these circumstances, the largest quantity of e-books published in Estonian has so far been available to be checked out only in the e-book lending environment of Tallinn Central Library, ELLU, which was made accessible to people all over Estonia at the beginning of the state of emergency. In order to use it, one has to sign up as a member of the Tallinn Central Library, which can quite easily be done on the Internet by using either the ID card or the Mobile-ID. It has turned out that the number of TCL members has been increasing very rapidly during the crisis exactly because people from all over Estonia have been signing up as members when they have needed to use the ELLU e-book lending environment.
I myself am a brand new user of ELLU; and I sincerely recommend it to everyone who would like to read books while at home in self-quarantine. I also confidently recommend the user environment of the National Library of Estonia – DIGAR, which provides access to the publications stored in the digital archive. In addition, the National Library of Estonia intends to launch a free service enabling users all over Estonia to check out e-publications. You can read about it in more detail here.

Although even I have become a reader of e-books, in spite of being such a great favourer of printed books, I want to pose an intriguing question: what happens if at some point the Internet disappears as unexpectedly as the novel virus emerged amongst us? In that case, e-books would be useless. I am sure that there are many people who think that this will never happen. However, was anyone able to envision a year ago that a tiny, invisible, evil virus would be capable of placing the whole world under lockdown?
Whenever possible, I will still mainly remain faithful to the printed books; and I believe that physical books will be able to exist nicely side by side with e-books for a long time to come. Of course, it is up to everyone themselves whether they read a book on a smart device, on the computer, or by holding it in their hands. What matters is that people read!

Let me know in the comment section whether you prefer to read e-books or printed books, and why!


Merle, development manager of the Central Library of Võru County, educator, and EPALE ambassador since 2017. She graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Tartu University, having specialized in commercial economics, and has expanded her knowledge on many different trainings.

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Mostrando del 1 - 10 al 15
  • Imagen de Marianna Okomane
    When I first bought my E- book I was sure that it will help me to: 
    1. broaden my reading preferences as there are billions of books available to be downloaded; 
     2. save more money as I’m not going to buy regular books; 
     3. leave some more free shelf space. 
     Printed books aren’t eternal, even the smallest candle can destroy a great story, and that is why having the ability to keep the books with all their heritage in a secure place is a great advantage which I wanted to support. But then I realized that I missed that feeling of walking around the book shop in order to find that book, I missed running through the pages. 
    To my mind, reading a printed book brings you the most of the process, but I am sure that E- book industry is developing on an every day basis and soon there will be such an amazing E- alternatives that even the biggest skeptic will be happy to have it.   
  • Imagen de Jana Komleva
    I see that a lot of people in comments are writing that they prefer an E-book to a real paper book with which I personally can't agree.Even though e-reading can help to save trees and is a rather eco-friendly method, for me it is tiring to spend extra time near the screen when reading. I also prefer to have a real printed book, because I like the physical feeling of holding it in my hands and turning pages. I also believe that when reading a printed book you memorize information better. Another plus is that you can leave bookmarks and comments in the printed book, put it on the shelf and easily return to it whenever needed, whereas with E-book it wouldn't be so visually pleasant and easy to find the right place. To sum up, both E-books and printed books have their own advantages and disadvantages. However. I strongly stand for the printed books.

    P.s. Thank you everyone for your opinions, it was nice reading your comments and the blog post as well.

  • Imagen de Anna Holberga
    I prefer to read printed books because I like having the physical form of what I am reading. It is nice to have a bookshelf of books that one has read or a shelf with books passed down in your family. The oldest books in my home are from the late 19th century! Opening an old book can also tell a story of who gave it as a gift to whom. My favourite part about reading a printed book is that I can underline and write comments, then look back on it. Sometimes when you see someone reading or carrying a book you can start a conversation with them about the book, but when a person is reading an e-book it is not easy to tell what they are reading. Also when you go to someone’s home you can talk about the books that they have and you can also trade books. I did not know that libraries could lend out e-books! However, I think that e-books are a great alternative, especially now during quarantine! I have read, used e-books when I need to write a research paper about it and so I would not have to rewrite the quotes from the book. I also really enjoy reading Gothic stories with the audio of the story in the background!   
  • Imagen de Katre Savi
    Tänan, Merle! Väga huvitav teema, mis ajendas mind jätku kirjutama ja täiendama üsna värske teadustöö tulemustega:
    Raamatuid loen mina jätkuvalt (ja ainult) paberilt) :-). Samas, paljusid koolitusmaterjale eelistan just digitaalselt. Eelistused on väga selgelt mugavusest lähtuvad, sh digi loob juurdepääsu ja palju ägedaid võimalusi materjalidele, esitlustele, koolitustele jne mida muidu ei oleks. Samas raamatuga aeg on tõeline puhkus ja nauding, mis veidi aitab tasakaalustada ekraani taga viibimise üleküllust.
  • Imagen de Tiit Tilk
    Trükkisin aastatel 1999-2010 kokku ligi sada tuhat arvutiõpikut. Edasi jälgisin viisakalt ligi 10 aastat, kuidas igaüks "põlve otsas" e-kursusi ja materjale nikerdab. Kogudes ühtlasi veendumust, et paber jääb väga suurele sihtgrupile parimaks toeks isegi valdkonnas, mida peetakse kiiresti muutuvaks. On suur vahe mappi kinnitatud A4 lehtedel ja korralikul mugaval klamberköites trükisel. Mille tehniline teostus võib olla nii odav, et ühe koolitusgrupi väga detailne tugimaterjal maksab vähem kui koolitaja akadeemiline töötund. Kuni koolituste valitsevaks printsiibiks on ja jääb RAHA, pole trükistel edu. Päris jubedaid tugimaterjale on nähtud. Kuni valitseb konkurents ja puudub koostööd, kaotab pikemas vaates ühiskond kui tervik ning igaüks selle osana.
  • Imagen de Merle KOIK
    Olen raamatukogutöötajana Teie raamatuid läbi aastate inimestele soovitanud ja saanud head tagasisidet eriti vanema generatsiooni esindajatelt. Seeniorid vajavad õppimisel aega ja tahavad teadmisi manustada oma tempos, raamatute abil õppimine sobib neile väga hästi! 
  • Imagen de kaido vestberg
    Olen hakanud e-raamatut eelistama. Tõuke andis selleks mõned aastad tagasi kohustus veeta palju aega lennukis. E-raamatut on lihtsam lugeda, nii valguse, tähtede suuruse ja kaasaskandmise mõttes. E-raamatut saab lihtsamini muretseda (ei pea ootama või minema kuhugi), omavahel lihtsamini jagada (kontaktivabalt). Ja ka puud jäävad kasvama. Samas kodus võiks ikka ka valik paberraamatuid olla.
  • Imagen de Georgi SKOROBOGATOV
    Sarnast arutelu võib pidada ka koolitusmaterjalide oas - kas digitaalsed või paberkandjal? Koolitajana suunan oma õppijaid aina enam digitaalsete materjalide poole ja suures osas tulevad sellega kaasa kõikide sihtrühmade esindajad, arendades selleks ka oma digioskusi. Siiski on selliseid materjale, mida pole mõistlik või mugav jagada eletroonselt ja peab välja trükkima. Millised on teie õppijate eelistused - kas pigem elektroonsed või pigem paberkandjal materjalid? Mida ise koolitajatena eelistate? 
  • Imagen de Merle KOIK
    Aitäh, Georgi!
    Arvan, et koolitusmaterjalide osas sõltub palju sellest, keda koolitatakse. Seenioride koolitamisel on näiteks kindlasti mõistlik jagada koolitusmaterjale pigem paberkandjal. Mina ise eelistan koolitusmaterjale vastupidiselt "raamat versus e-raamat" teemale hoopis digitaalsel kujul saada, sest nii on neid lihtne salvestada ja taas üles leida kui tarvis läheb. 
  • Imagen de Georgi SKOROBOGATOV
    Merle, kui seadmed on olemas, seeniori kürval on üks digiosav kaasõppija ja koolitajal on piisavalt kannatust (ning aega), siis arenevad seenioride digioskused mühinal. Jah, on olnud juhtumeid, kus inimene ei kasuta arvutit ega nutiseadmeid üldse (või vähemalt väidab nii) - siis olen püüdnud temale eraldi trükkida nii materjale kui ka tunnistuse on ekstra prinditud ja postiga saadetud, kuigi kogu ülejäänud grupp sai digiallkirjastatud kujul. Aga need on olnud tõesti üksikud erandid. Üks põnev ernad oli ka õppija, kes on harjunud printima ja kaustadesse arhveerima kõikide oma koolituste materjale, märkemid ja tunnistusi. Minu koolitusel printis ta välja kõik kohustuslikud ja soovituslikud materjalid, s.h. juhtmite analüüsi jaoks kasutatud vebeilehtede sisu välja. Ilusate värviliste materjalidega kaust tuli umbes 2 cm paks :)