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Which book format is superior?

By Ava Zardynezhad, September 13 2022

A print book, an e-book, an audiobook. But, what makes these three book formats different? And, what small feature about them divides the book community? Let’s talk about it. 


Print books are well-loved because they’re tangible. You get to feel the texture of the pages and smell the new — or old — book smell that readers are often obsessed with. If you’re the type to make notes, you can always highlight and annotate your physical copy in your own style. Another perk with print books are the pretty covers. With print books you also get the satisfaction of filling your bookshelves, which is not quite as gratifying with soft formats, no matter how many you own. Print books don’t need to be recharged and it’s unlikely that you would get TikTok notifications on your paperback to distract you from reading. Print options are also pretty affordable and more widely accessible for people with certain disabilities. 

At the same time, print books can get super heavy and aren’t always easy to carry around. They take up a lot of space and can get wet and dirty. With the pandemic, print books aren’t the most sanitary — especially if you get them from a library. You always need a light source when you’re reading so you can’t read print books in the dark. Besides, they’re not always very economical. 


Ebooks are the most versatile yet underrated book format. Since they’re digital all you really need is your smartphone to read them. You can take them anywhere, they’re light and compact and you can read them at any time with any brightness. They’re also pretty sustainable, which is always a plus. They’re usually cheaper, too. Ebooks also have extra functions that are unique to them, like a search option or popular highlights. You can change the font and size which is great for people with certain disabilities. They’re less “thumbed through.” You can still annotate and highlight, though that’s not quite as customizable as with print books. You can download ebooks instantly, which is great when you decide to read something at 2 a.m. Most ebook providers also have a machine read option available which is helpful for people with disabilities or neurodivergent individuals.  

On the other hand, you do need to recharge your ebook reader — which honestly isn’t that bad since, if you have access to an outlet, you can read while it charges. But, ebooks aren’t the most accessible for people with certain disabilities. The search function is also a double edge sword since you can easily spoil important plot points for yourself. You also need some sort of an electronic device to read these books, which lowers their accessibility score. Lastly, some books are sadly not available in an ebook format. 


Now audiobooks have a special place in my heart. They’re great because you can read them while you’re doing your everyday tasks. You get to put a voice to the characters. You can change the speed if you need to. You don’t need to hold the book to read it so you don’t get as much eye or wrist strain as with print and ebooks. They’re super entertaining. You can take them anywhere. You can listen to them in bed to help you fall asleep. You can also listen to them while reading the physical book to help you focus better. This is also a friendly option for those who have reading difficulties. 

Yet, even audiobooks aren’t without flaws. They can be harder to navigate and it’s tricky to skip sections with these books. It’s also easier to get distracted with audiobooks. Also, good luck listening to them while doing more complicated tasks, because I for one find it really hard to focus on both when that happens. Sadly, not all audio narrations are good ones, which limits your options. This is the most expensive book format. They need power so there’s a need to recharge the device you’re listening on. You can’t listen to them without headphones in public. Lastly, you also won’t get to see how things are written, which can sometimes change the way you understand certain parts of the book.  

Personally, my go-to is an ebook. They’re more accessible, I can borrow them from the library easier and I can never forget them at home cause they’re always in my pocket. But, I won’t deny that a good paperback is a different experience altogether. Whatever format you choose, I hope you’re reading something good!

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