Skip to main content

Do Books and E-books Co-exist in Your Life?

I take books with me wherever I go. Who knows when I would have a few minutes on hand? Earlier these were big fat tomes, and I wouldn’t mind the weight because I was younger, my back was stronger.

But with e-books, I find I like reading on e-devices — I can still carry tomes, even multiple tomes, and my poor back is none the wiser.

E-books and Book Nostalgia

The co-existence of E-books and Paper Books

Since I read a few books in different genres at any given time, I can read paper books from the library at home, and carry the others in my e-devices. The library in Singapore is one of the best in the world, I think, in terms of service, and the stock and availability of the books it carries– so I’ll never stop reading paper books till it carries them. I can’t remember the last time I bought a paper book though.

So paper books from the library, and e-books that I buy– this how they co-exist for me. Do paper books and e-books co-exist for you? If so, how?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Lauren Craig says:

    yes. When I cannot find a book in paper form, I buy it on Kindle. Thank you for following my blog by the way.

  • melodyspen says:

    I’m fortunate to have a nice little paperback exchange here in town, though I tend to buy books for life more often than take them back to get credit for a new one. I will also download just as many e-books to my Kindle, as I will order to be delivered in print. I think it just depends one these factors: 1) Im/patience, 2) Finances or 3) Collection – there are certain authors I like to always have on hand, because I will read them again and again.

  • worldsworth says:

    I read both, but only download books when I can’t find paper versions as quickly as I need them and never from Amazon.

  • JD says:

    I have books and ebooks. I have a Kindle Paperwhite and it’s terrific! For me it’s the ereader done right. However, I will buy books for the shelf for a particular topic of interest. It’s a collection that I want to “pass down” so actual books seem the way to go for that.

    I love not being limited by bookshelf space.

  • steffw89 says:

    YES! For me it isn’t just the use of my kindle, but also my phone and laptop. I have an extensive and ecclectic mix of books and sometimes it just isnt possible for me to always afford the books i want to read NOW so i will go for the cheaper option and download them to my kindle, then if i fall in love i will most likely go out and buy the paper book. If i love a story, a history any kind of literature i feel impatient until i can actually own that book, have it lodged in a nook or cranny of one of my bookcases (or hidden under my bed so my fiance wont see how many books i bought this month)

  • Ebook when I’m traveling, but do both otherwise. How popular are audio books, I wonder ???

  • I prefer paper over plastic. I find it hard to read on an e-reader in any great depth. And it feels like work to me, not pleasure. Also, you don’t get the same design element — the book as a beautiful object. Add to that the studies showing that we absorb information more deeply (important note if you have children) on paper. However, I do see benefits to e-books for avid readers.

  • Mike says:

    I now use all formats so that I can have a book with me at all times. I recently put Freya* (*TIP: a free app) on my Windows Phone. I can now read a sonnet while waiting for the little green man at a pedestrian crossing. How good is that! πŸ˜€ As to preference, it’s not the manner of reading but the matter.

  • nice post. i am both books and e-readers. i love my kindle. πŸ™‚

  • Yes, I love both. Generally I’ll take my Kindle with me when I’m out, because I can do other things besides read, if necessary. At home I have my paperbacks; there’s something about the feel of a good book. Plus, I still get a rush from browsing the local library or brick and mortar stores.

  • Definitely co-exist for me. I like the convenience of an e-reader but can’t seem to let go of the touch, smell, and presence of a traditional tattered cover.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and following. Like what you have here and look forward to following you.

  • I read both, I like the feel of the paper, but sometimes it’s easier just to CLICK and download a book from Amazon onto my Kindle

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I still mostly read paper books and enjoy doing so. I don’t have any e-reading device, but I have read a few books on my computer for the purpose of reviewing and such. Haven’t bought any e-books yet though.


  • dameemster says:

    I agree with Ankita, I believe it’s better in the long run to have paper books. They’re also harder to lose in a way.

  • Ankita says:

    i do not prefer e-books, the paper books have a charm of their own think

  • i really, really fought the kindle/ebook thing for a long time. finally my husband bought me one to test it out and i’m ok with it now. i’d say i’m 85% real book, 15% kindle…

    the biggest thing that i use the kindle for are books that i’d be embarrassed to be seen to be reading… like the hunger games and the outlander series (which i actually re-read on kindle while pregnant). book snob over here can keep her guilty pleasures a secret! πŸ™‚

    (ps thanks for liking my post. hope you continue to enjoy and i, in turn, will try and keep up with yours!)

  • Deborah Wong says:

    Hi, thanks for ‘liking’ my entry. Feel free to retweet or share it. It’s hilarious.

  • The battery on my four-year-old Kindle died this week. Actually, it probably happened before now, but I just figured this out. I remember unplugging it “just for a minute,” without powering down, so now it won’t recharge.
    I’m only a bit sad about this. I was too cheap to pay for books, so I ended up downloading the free ones. I discovered great reads I might not have otherwise found. I liked the portability, too. But I continued to read printed books.
    Honestly, most of my “reading” is done in the form of audio books since I spend so much time commuting to work in my car.

  • murnkey says:

    Both definitely have a place for me now…I’m a sucker for a good-looking book, which is where I find that print will have the advantage over ebook for the foreseeable future – a really nice hardback or ingenious cover design will always talk me into the physical edition. I definitely have a bias for fiction in physical book form, especially if it’s a series – having them lined up on my shelf satisfies the OCD collector in me!

    But at the same time, especially when I’m off somewhere for a few days or commuting to work, it’s a lot more convenient to just slip my iPad Mini into my bag and read something on there. I’ve taken to downloading books I’ve seen but that aren’t super attractive or are quite expensive for what you get (not content-wise, more that the design/paper quality isn’t up to much for the price being asked) and reading them digitally. Often non-fiction ones where the price is regularly Β£9.99+ for the print edition.

  • Hi, love your work! I have nominated you for five awards. Yeah I said five! πŸ™‚ Do check them out. You are under no pressure to accept, just wanted you to know that I appreciate your blogging.

  • I like the e-reader for its immediacy and ability to travel lightly. But I am still a fan of the actual tactile hardcover book. The e-book can hide from me. I start them and fail to finish. Hardcovers scream for attention and I can see my progress and flip the pages to see how many more are left in a chapter. I’m so geeky, I actually like the scent of a new book. Yikes! Can’t get that with an e-reader.

  • This is an insightful and enlightening post ,,, because I have no experience with E-Books. OOOOhhh! Shouldn’t I be embarassed to say that? Yes, I should be, and I am. I am encouraged, because I am encouraged to go for it, and get with the program. Good job on this post. I would love to go to Singapore.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I like books. They don’t need a charged battery to read them, and the screen doesnt reflect the light in the garden. They are cooler to read than my notebook pc as well. Of course, if I got a Kindle paperwhite it would probably solve most of those drawbacks – except I’d probably forget to charge the battery before a long journey..

  • ohheyitssam says:

    Definitely! There are lots of reasons I buy some books on my Nook and some in paper. Sometimes it’s hard to find a book in print at the local bookstores and libraries here in Phoenix, so having an e-reader has given me the chance to access books I couldn’t otherwise find. They’re also really good for hiding the embarrassing guilty pleasure books you don’t want anyone on the bus to know you’re reading. If it’s a classic, though, I’ll buy it in paper so it can look impressive on my bookshelf, haha. I prefer paper for sure, but e-books have their advantages. They’re not mutually exclusive in my life at all.

  • I honestly don’t distinguish between them. I read both and they are just words (in a good way). If I’m going to be on planes or in cars a lot, an e-book is the way to go. However, I’m much more likely to take paper on vacation – as the science-fiction writer Frederik Pohl observed in the 1970s, long before there really were e-books, a paper book has better “random access” (meaning you can flip the pages), and if you take it to the beach and bake it in the sun then get it dunked in the waves, it will still work. Also, one end of our two-story living room is a two-story wall of bookshelves. The reactions it gets! People straighten their spines as they approach it and smile widely. You won’t see people do that to an e-reader on a coffee table.

  • Since I produce both print and e-books, obviously I like both. My personal reading is about fifty-fifty, though as I see my personal library once again pass 1000 volumes — I’m buying more and more e-books (I have 3 Kobos and a Kindle) just to save space. But there is nothing like the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hands. And I guess that last remark shows where my heart lies.

  • Although I have an ipad plus and e-reader, I still prefer to read a paper book. I enjoy turning the pages of a book:-)

  • feltenk says:

    I nominated you for a few blog awards πŸ˜‰

  • BAlanGoetz says:

    I’m still infatuated with the look of books on a shelf, or the cup rings that permeate several covers in my collection, and the feel of different papers between my fingers as I turn the page of a well-read tome. So, I’m still a collector and reader of paper books. But, when I travel, I have to admit that taking my Nook is the best thing my travel bag. It allows me to take several books, along with my research and speaking papers with me, and to edit them or review them in the cramped space of an airplane seat.

  • My problem with ebooks is they don’t remind me they’re there. I forget I have them available to read and go to the stack of paperbacks on my headboard.

    Dunno what to do about that.

  • I read both, I love paperbacks and hardbacks so I’ll never stop reading them. But my kindle has the convenience of getting the books faster and not paying high shipping fees. The weight of books is a non-issue. I love reading books and the weight is worth it.

  • sisimka says:

    The price and convenience of ebooks has won me over. I’ve had a kindle for years, which I find really useful when I read for review. I can annotate as I go instead of reaching for pen and paper, or remembering that thought later. And I can sync to the same page with the kindle app on my phone, meaning I am never without something to read.

    I still buy books, though. I like to see them on my bookshelves and I love holding a brand new hardcover. It’s an indulgence that makes collecting my favourite authors more than just a hobby.

  • Gwen says:

    They coexist, but I still prefer the feel of a real book in my hands.

  • mareymercy says:

    I’m pretty much an e-book gal exclusively at this point. Easier to carry and better for the environment.

  • I do both as well. I love my KIndle for reading at night. My husband and I both read in bed before falling asleep – he with a paper version – and since he gets up earlier than I do, he often wants to turn off the light and go to sleep before I am ready to put down my book. With my Kindle, I can keep reading after he shuts off the light. But, I love paper books still and find I prefer to have a hard copy in my hand, especially for doing research where I have to flip back and forth. I am the moderator for my church’s lady’s book club and I prefer to read the hard copy of the book for that because it’s easier for me to jot down notes for discussion and also to flip back to reference specific quotations. E-readers are wonderful also for the wide range of free books available, and also amazon offers a lending library with prime membership, which is very convenient as well. But my home still has stacks of books on nearly every flat surface!

  • bhuwanchand says:

    Yes they do. Each format has its advantages, disadvantages. Our kids love to hear the story from the kindle, but they always want to have a normal book to ‘see it’ ‘feel it’ and just have it with so that they can ‘carry it around’ :-).

  • Lorb says:

    I carry a magazine, Nook, and iPad almost always. You never know when a thought may come in and I want something to jot it down. I’m always reading some book do I can’t leave my nook home. Magazine is just in case there’s no reception or for emergencies…

  • Cristina says:

    I don’t think I will ever completely convert to e-books. While I admit that going on vacation with an e-book so much more convenient space-wise, I still can’t study from electronic format (I need my post-its, notes, having the same edition with my teacher, etc). Soon I will be living abroad for almost five months and, although I would normally buy books like they are becoming extinct, I will try to buy a Kindle and stack the ´´tomes´´ there. At the end of the day it’s still 20 kg baggage limit at the airport, and books weight a lot. So yes…in my world they co-exist in peace and harmony. πŸ™‚

  • I’m a paper book loyalist! I have ebooks on my phone & I like the convenience, but when I read a book that I know I’ll want to read again in the future, I buy it in paper version. Especially if it’s a series :-). Great post!

  • Lesley says:

    I haven’t got a Kindle, or any other kind of e-reader, but I’d like to try one as there have been many times while browsing the net, I’d loved to have downloaded a book, a magazine or whatever. I think I would like the convenience of them. I used to always buy books I wanted from eBay or Amazon, but now I mostly borrow from the library. My 93 year old dad has an iPad and he downloads lots of things, including newspapers. He loves his iPad. πŸ˜€

  • Kate is says:

    Yes, I happily use both. I have just finished three in a row on the kindle and am back to a paper kind. I’m not bothered which way my words come.

  • Rosie Amber says:

    I reading both!

  • Vy Chazen says:

    I happily read all forms. I live by three libraries and I rent older or out-of-print books. They also have e-books available. I rent audiobooks for road trips, books I want to peruse or test-read, and magazines. I buy the physical book at B&N shops if I desperately want it then and there or Amazon if I’m okay with waiting (usually because I have a book to carry me over the two days.) if I know the author, it’s a local author, or a favorite writer, I’ll also buy the physical book. It’s interesting, I use to always wait for the paperback, but now I find myself buying hardcover since I don’t buy as many now.

    I love my e-readers. I use my iPhone (which surprisingly keeps my attention despite the size) for iBooks and Kindle app. I use my Kindle for when I’m going on walks with my family because there isn’t a glare, and for plane rides (so light). I am also allergic to some types of ink and paper so I’ll read those on my e-reader too. I need both because I’ll find things in one form but not the other. I love physical books because they are the original, but I love the convenience, price, and opportunity that e-reading provides for me. It’s like choosing between your loving parents! Eek!

  • Tuesday says:

    For day-to-day reading, I still enjoy having a physical book in my hands. I am absolutely one of those people who gets off on the feel and smell of a book. I love libraries and used book stores because they smell like…well…books. πŸ˜€
    But there is definitely space in my life for e-books. They come in very handy when I’m traveling. I love having tons of magazines and books for the many road-trips and plane rides I go on and my iPad is the easiest way to tote them all. I am very thankful for these devices that allow me to take my love of reading wherever I go!

  • Daniel says:

    They attempt to co-exist. I’ve downloaded about 50 books on my ereader, but so far have only been able to finish one. There just something “off” when I read short, glowing pages. I never feel like I’m accomplishing anything. Or, maybe I’ve just been reading bad books.

  • Lea Jurock says:

    They definitely co-exist for me. I love my kindle, but I still love to read actual books.

  • They don’t exist together in my world, if only because I haven’t spent the time to find an enjoyable e-reader. I’m sure the day I find my comfort zone things will change.

  • I’ve recently started reading e-books. I usually download e-books when I’m excited to read a book and the real (paper books) are not available in bookstores yet. Also, if I want to read a book that’s still in hardback, I read the e-book first, and if I like it, buy the paperback later on. I also sometimes download the e-book version of the paper book I’m reading, especially if it’s a thick book, so that when I travel, I can leave the real book at home, and bring the e-reader with me (much lighter). I still love real books though and e-readers / e-books will never replace them.

  • I’ve had a kindle for about a year. I go back and forth and definitely use both. Many times I can find copies of the classics FREE for download b/c they’re out of copyright. That’s when I go kindle πŸ™‚

  • R. Guile says:

    I’m much more likely to buy books for my Kindle that I may not buy n hard copy. That is to say, I’m a little less choosy. And so far it’s worked out well – I’ve stumbled across a gem or two that I otherwise may have passed up. I still like to buy a hard copy of the books I really like, though. It just feels more permanent.

  • I totally think they can co-exist. Right now I only have books, but I am saving up for e-reader that way I can read physical books at home and read on my e-reader on the go. Great post!

  • Shilpa Garg says:

    I read both. But my love for books is certainly more as compared to e-books.

  • Colin Noel-Johnson says:

    I enjoy all formats of books. I’ve read paperback books my whole life and I always will, you can’t find some of my favorites in ebooks.
    That said, I have plenty of ebooks waiting to be read, it’s more a matter of getting time to read than choosing between ebooks and paperback for me.

  • I compartmentalize. I do work reading (pdf articles) on the ipad but pleasure reading must be done with a physical book with pages that smell and that can be destroyed, because inevitably they will as I take my pleasure reading everywhere including the bathtub.

  • Paul says:

    I resisted eBooks for a long time. (And it had nothing to do with “the feel of paper”.) Then our local, independent book store was selling Kobo Minis for $50. I figured it might come in handy if the library had an electronic version of a book sooner than the paper version.

    Then I bought an eBook. Then I bought another.

    Right now I’m at a spot similar to where I was when music first started coming out on CDs. That is, I buy paper books that I care about, and eBooks for just something to read on the bus.

  • I read hard copy books in the bathtub.

  • I have a reader and I still buy paperbacks. Some books I want to read have photos that don’t show up on my old B&W Nook. Other books are just not available for e-reading. I never thought I would say this, but with the better readers, I am beginning to prefer e-books simply because I like to keep my favorite books, and I just don’t have the space for all of them.

  • ptero9 says:

    I love my Kindle too. Non-fiction books, which is a large portion of my reading lately, are a lot better priced on Kindle than either Trade paperback or certainly hard-cover. I do worry about the day when there isn’t an Amazon. What will become of my Kindle e-book collection?
    I still have a collection of favorites in paper. They’re not going anywhere for now.

  • ioniamartin says:

    Paper books at home and ereader everywhere else seems to be the happy medium for me. I enjoy reading “real” books still, I like the pages and the pretty interiors and beautiful covers. I do enjoy the convenience of the ebook though, although I never thought I would say that as i was so against ebooks in the beginning.

  • tjtherien says:

    I read a lot of news and a lot of blogs on line as well as researching for my writing but when it comes to books I will go to a used bookstore and look for a book on my must read before I die list… I like the feel of paper, I like the dog-eared pages and I think used books are the best…

  • Lately I’ve been buying Ebooks because of the low price and convenience. I have a Kindle app on my computer and iPod to take wherever I go. But if I have the extra money, I’ll buy paperbacks or hardcovers. There’s something special about holding a print book in my hands. And of course I always keep an attractive bookshelf.

  • I read both. I have a Nook, and much of what I read is on it, but I find when I am madly in love with a book, I want to own it, touch it, stroke its pages, admire its cover. Ebooks are convenient, especially when my daughter is sleeping next to me. But books minus the “e” will always have more seductive power. Also, what about “Griffin and Sabine”? That could never be the same in ebook format!

  • Ann Bresnan says:

    My daughter brought me kicking and screaming to my Kindle a year ago Christmas. I now have over 400 books on it and hate reading a “real” book. Still have some I need to read from before but actually resent them!~

  • Jason says:

    Yeah I love both. I have a new Kindle and am LOVING it! Although I do like a real book too, but it’s easy to take the Kindle around and pop it out when I have a few spare minutes to read πŸ™‚

  • A.M.B. says:

    Ebooks and traditional books with “soft pages” (to quote a letter from Harper Lee to Oprah in 2006) coexist in my world, but I prefer ebooks. It’s much more convenient–easy to carry and easy to mark without defiling the book.

  • It’s always nice to hear about libraries. When I go to the library I’ll typically do some casual browsing – no title or subject pre-planned. I enjoy that, and I can’t say that online book browsing in nearly as enjoyable. The same goes for used book stores.

    Having said that, I also like the several advantages of e-books, such as storage and the issues of trees. My books are usually nicely scattered around my apartment, though sometimes they are all in my bookshelf, creating the illusion of organization.

    Every month though, my “need to read” stack gets bigger on my computer than on my shelf. As for the issue of emitted light versus reflected light (paper books), I was once told by an optometrist that reading off a screen is better for your eyes that reading on paper. However, I’m not sure that is due to the different light perceptions.

    As a side note, I suppose there is one thing that can’t be done with e-book organizing that can be done with paper books. I discovered this the other day when I took a look at someone who does book reviews on Youtube. The video she had was all about she had proudly set up her physical bookshelf by the colors of the books . . . I never got to her reviews! πŸ™‚

  • I do both. Paper copies and ebooks. Some short stories by my favorite authors are only available on e book..

  • I’m madly in love with my kindle! I’m 80% e-book and 20% book. The main reason is that some of the books I like to read don’t fit inside my purse or are too heavy, as you said in your post … my poor back!!!
    Try to carry Wise Man Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, the hardcover!! plus makeup, wallet, a couple of granola bars, sunglasses, phone, ipod, etc etc … impossible!!

  • Emily Kathleen says:

    Interesting post! Ebooks and physical books absolutely coexist in my world. I really feel like they both have their advantages and I’ll continue to read whatever I can get my hands on, in any format! I get most of my books from the library, but there are still some I buy, usually in physical form. If I think I’m going to want to reread a book or lend it to someone I always make sure to buy the physical book instead of an ebook.

  • I admit that after getting my first iPad, I converted completely to eBooks.

  • Dan Antion says:

    Good question, For now, I am sticking with paper books, where I can. I have read a couple e-books that were only available that way. I do like electronic magazines, newspapers and other media, but I still prefer a real book. I like that I can read it during takeoff and landing, without power and that I can read it with light coming from behind, not glaring at me. More than anything, I like the feel of a book in my hands.

  • I read both. It tends to boil down how much money I have when I want a new book.

%d bloggers like this: