Skip to content

Reasons to Buy Paper Books

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read

It helps to remember the things a paper book can do that ebooks still can't.

  1. 30+ years of scientific studies have shown reading from paper improves comprehension and retention of information better than reading from a screen. Here's some (screen-based) articles on why...don't expect to recall them later.
  2. They don't add to your sleeplessness like your iPad or iPhone.
  3. They set a good example for your kids. The kids have no idea what you're doing on your phone. Holding a book leaves no question.
  4. They're less expensive in two ways. First, they're fiscally less expensive (especially used - yes, you can do that with paper books). "A book is a screaming bargain. You pay $15-20, and you have something that might change your life; you have something that reminds you 20 years later, sitting on the shelf, where you were when you read it. I love buying books." - Seth Godin
  5. They're also less expensive in terms of your time. Stand-alone ebooks (the most common kind) usually don't have the multiple editing and publishing phases of physical books, which means a lot of cruft may remain in the book. Gatekeepers are still OK for some things.
  6. Gatekeepers are also still good at finding better writing and images. This gets more true by the year as the print publishing business gets more cutthroat and specialized. It's the opposite of what's happening online.
  7. They can be skimmed more easily. Audiobooks can't be skimmed at all. I save those for biographies or fiction, when chapters must be read in order. For non-linear, nonfiction reading, you can save yourself countless hours by flipping ahead to the idea which apply specifically to you.
  8. You can write in them. This is especially helpful when the author is asking you questions, but handwritten notes in general help with comprehension.
  9. They live beyond you. My son will inherit my favorite books and copies of books I wrote. He may even read one of them. Remember, there's no digital archival format yet, so if you want something to last, it still needs paper.
  10. I can give them to someone else. This is not always true of ebooks.
  11. They're weighty. They add weight to the thoughts by actually adding weight.
  12. No one needs another inbox. That's what ebooks feel like to me. They're another thing, on top of an infinite stack of things, I need to read on a device.
  13. I lost good, real world cover art in music and movies, I'm not losing it with books. And with books, the physical art can extend through every page. There's no way I'm giving that up.
  14. I find it more pleasurable. In the grand scheme, I won’t be alive a whole lot longer. I'm taking this pleasure with me as far as I will go.
  15. Paper isn’t tied to the frequent failings of my hardware and software. “Paper doesn’t crash.” - Jason Fried