Are physical books outdated?

Gerry Hart and Lucy Lillystone discuss paper books, comparing them to their less traditional conterparts and whether modern technology is ruining contemporary experiences of reading.

Lucy Lillystone
5th March 2018
Image: Flickr


As technology increasingly develops, everything is starting to become digitalised, including books. No longer are people going to Waterstones to buy a physical copy of their favourite books, they are instead getting eBooks. While there are advantages of these, there are disadvantages too. Below are some of my main concerns regarding eBooks and why everyone should stick with paperback!

First of all, there is the feel and smell of books. If you’re a true book lover like myself, holding that book and feeling yourself flick the pages is one of the best things about reading. And don’t forget the smell! eBooks don’t allow this. There is only the flicking of the screen and it is not the same. Call me traditional but I love the physical copy in my hands. Also, with eBooks, where is the physical appearance of love? The folded corners, the cracked spine, the look of a book that was read with joy. There is none and that takes away all the fun.

Books don't run out of battery

Also, books don't run out of battery. Have you ever had to get a charger for your book? No. And that is why paperbacks are so much better than eBooks. While you’re sat over there recharging your device because it’s critically on 5%, I’m just carrying on reading. There’s nothing worse than getting to a climactic part in your book and your kindle just dying on you. And what happens if you’re out in a coffee shop and forget your charger? That’s you finished. With paperbacks, there is no problem of your book dying half way through.

Finally the cost. One disadvantage of eBooks is the cost of the device itself. Although the books themselves may be cheaper, you first have to have a device to read them on and have you seen the price of kindles? No way can I afford that! And what’s worse is that you cannot put that device on your bookshelf. It just doesn’t work.

So, although technology is becoming the norm in the society we live in, let us not forget the wonders of paperbacks and remember that eBooks do have their disadvantages.


If there’s one thing that fucks me off its gatekeeping, something I unfortunately see all too much being both a fan of heavy metal and video games.

And it seems not even books are immune, with many people arguing that audiobooks and Ebooks don’t constitute “real reading”. But whilst this might be technically true (insofar as audiobooks are concerned) I still cannot understand the logic. 

If we want to get more people reading, we need to embrace this

The best argument in favour of digital reading lies in accessability. I myself struggle with the physical process of reading and until my last year of Sixth Form, I honestly believed that fiction simply wasn’t for me, thanks in no small part to the passionless, dry and League Table driven manner in which English literature was taught at school. Thankfully I was proven wrong when on a whim I decided to give an audiobook of Dracula a shot. And whilst I’d still not consider myself well read, audiobooks have enabled me to explore a variety of authors such as Mary Wollestoncraft, Karl Marx, J. R. R. Tolkein and H.P. Lovecraft. Then there are people like my dad who, being registered blind, requires audiobooks. Fact of the matter is paper books are not accessible to everyone. 

Besides which, I fail to see why paper books are inherently superior. Historically speaking, they’re hardly the only means by which information was conveyed. Yet we hardly see people proclaiming the only true way to tell a story is round a campfire dressed in animal hides or on crumbling stone tablets. So then why do some turn up their noses at the idea of books being told on an iPhone screen? 

This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with preferring paper books. But that’s all it is, a matter of preference. Different people have different ways of taking information in and if we want to get more people reading, we need to embrace this. 

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AUTHOR: Lucy Lillystone
English Language and Literature graduate, writer and Film Editor 2019/20. Passionate about film, TV and books. 99.9% of my articles are me crying, emotional over my love for my favourite characters. Twitter: @lucylillystone_

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