Pros and Cons of E-Book vs Printed – a third take

So, you’ve written a book. And now you have the audacity to want it published.  In this new information age there are many possibilities—all of them require some form of research, discipline and fortitude. How to choose? My advice would be to do the old ”here’s a list of pros and cons” exercise.

Here, in no logical or strategic order are my pros and cons for Print VS E-Book.

                                    The End.

Just kidding. There really are some valid strengths and weaknesses in the publishing process. Here, off the top of my head are a few.

Publishing – Have to write a query letter. If you have never written a query letter consider yourself one of the world’s lucky people. They are agony. Like root canal only worse.

E-Book – No query letter just go to Kindle and print away.

Publishing – Need an agent. This is actually much harder than it sounds. You send your first three chapters to an anonymous literary figure somewhere (probably New York) and six months later they write back and say your book was so awful they used your first 3 chapters to start the fire in their fireplace on Christmas Eve. They would have notified your sooner, but they were still laughing at the absurd idea that you consider yourself a writer.

E-Book- No agent is necessary.

Published – You will need a synopsis of your book for the agent (should you find one—and the publisher should your agent be any good and find one for you.) The synopsis is a one or two page summary of story, character, plot and ending. I always wonder why bother to write the whole book if you can summarize it in two pages? But that’s a question for another time.

E-Book – You won’t need a synopsis.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

If your  book is published, the publisher chooses the cover and has control of the title.

With E-Book, you design your own cover and write your own title.

Published books do appear in bookstores, but in this day and age the author has a heavy responsibility to market it.

E-Books are totally the responsibility of the author and marketing is his/her job.

Published books are smooth to the touch—smell good like a book should and have that satisfying spine snap the first time you open them.

E-Books are basically on little machines that need recharging and don’t make those pleasing page turning sounds.

Published books can be heavy and can be used to press flowers from your son’s prom or, if big enough, can be stood on to reach a dish on the top shelf.

E-Books fit in your purse and can’t press flowers.

Published authors are called by the Today show and they want to interview you on air.

E-Books authors are called by their grandma who is frustrated because she can’t figure out how to order a printed copy of your book to show to her bridge club.

But the bottom line is this:

Published—you are an author.

E-Book—you are an author.


Prompt: Pros and Cons of E-book vs. Printed Books

The printed book is a historical icon. Since German monks sat down in drafty stone monasteries and painstakingly recorded each word with quill and ink, books have been the most used medium of communicating thought. Books are substantial, both in heft and financial investment.  There is also the feelings holding a book convey, the smell of ink, the crackle of paper, smoothing ones hands over the cover and turning pages to devour a story all heighten the realization that one is holding someone’s life work in hand. Books have substance, as if the printed word has value and meaning. Books are easily recognizable as individual works of art.

The same things, which are heft and financial investment, create drawbacks for purchasing only printed books. It is neither cost effective nor healthy to carry ten or more books, unless one happens to be traveling by super deluxe RV and the cost of gas is insignificant. In order to read a book one needs a source of light.  Without daylight of artificial illumination, books are trapped in darkness and may as well contain blank pages.

E-books are a newer technology and require an e-reading device or an application to read them on a tablet, phone or computer.  With the dawn of the e-book, and in particular, Amazon Kindle, the door has been blown wide open for never-before published authors to be published. While that is wonderful, it also has its drawbacks.  With the ease of publication it is also clear that some writers having chosen e-book publication should have instead taken up crochet.  Purchasing an e-book is also a crap shoot.  At times reading a small sample or reading the reviews, as on Amazon, is not always helpful in determining if an e-book should be purchased.  Samples are sometimes painfully short and reviews are nothing more than opinions. Prices of e-books does not necessarily mean good value nor does low cost mean poor quality. E-books need a consistent source to renew power and some power source using a separate power cord. When the device honks twice and flashes a warning, one had better have his or her power cord and a viable plug-in or reading is cancelled until the device is recharged.

On the other hand e-books have great advantages as well.  An e-reading device is small, lightweight, portable and can hold dozens of books and have access to an unlimited amount via the cloud network.  As long as one has access to a wireless network the potential for buying books, magazines, games and surfing the internet is unlimited.  E-book pricing is usually one half or less of a printed book price. Even traditionally printed authors have taken to publishing e-books as well, so there is no need to miss out on the latest offering of a favorite author. E-book readers, for the most part, include a light source, therefore there is no limit to reading in the darkness of a car, bedroom or under the moonlight.

Printed books are mankind’s history and e-books are the future.  One should not replace the other as the only way to communicate thought. There is room for both just as there are advantages and disadvantages for both mediums.


Prompt: E-books vs Printed Books

Okay, from the wording of this prompt, I’m assuming there are pros to e-books. If you had asked me two years ago if there were any, I would have answered no.

But now, having worked on one and actually purchased a few, I can honestly say there are a few pros to e-books.

First, they’re usually shorter and less expensive to buy. Second, they only take up technological space as opposed to shelf space in my house. Third, they can be found world-wide from a computer and not just in countries that still have physical stores. But the most awesome pro of e-books from a writer’s perspective, (which I am one), is that you can write, publish and sell your book in a matter of weeks. This is a major breakthrough for writers who know they have something worthy and important to share with the world and there is no gatekeeper, guard, or obstacle to prevent them from getting their book out. This doesn’t mean the book can be sub-par, unedited, or indecent, though. It still needs decent content, good editing, and a point to it. But the e-book revolution has opened wide the gates for all writers to enter and this is a good thing. Many a writer has been turned down for good books and now they can put them out there if they choose. The control has been moved to the writer.

There are a few cons to e-books as well. They are hard to read on small screens, and as I get older, I need larger screens, and print, not smaller. Also, because the gates are wide open, there is a lot more junk to wade through. And far more content to compete with.

However, I prefer to use a paper bookmark and turn pages of printed books, and think I will always prefer physical books to e-books. But printed books also have a set of pros and cons.

The cons to printed books are the cost and amount of resources to produce. And traditional publishers are picky about what they publish. And some hardbacks can be heavy to carry.

The pros to printed books include not taking any batteries or electricity to read, they are still portable and they advertise themselves when carried to the beach or elsewhere. Libraries are a great place to check out books to save money.

This is what I came up with the day we had this prompt. Now it’s your turn. What would you say the pros and cons are to e-books versus printed books? Let us know in the comments.


Now you’ve met us !


Hopefully you have had a moment to read our introductions. That is who we are. What we do is write. And laugh. And drink tea. And other stuff. But we write a lot and laugh even more.

This past Saturday was an outing day for Paddle Creek Writers. We weren’t five minutes from our meeting place when laughter was ringing out in the car. Oh my we laugh. If laughter is truly good medicine, we should be extremely healthy women.

We also write. And we continue to pursue our craft. We read, we share what we read (especially Michelle), we discuss, we challenge each other, and we write.

Over the years we have discovered the incredible benefit of using writing prompts to encourage our creative flow. Writing prompts force creativity. It’s kind of like when you have absolutely no money for groceries, payday isn’t for three days, so you have to get creative with what you have on hand. Suddenly you are a creative meal planner! It’s like that. It forces you.

When you are sitting around a table with three other people, tea cups filled, and the timer set; you have very few choices. Especially when everyone else’s pens are scribbling away. So you write. Sometimes it flows. Sometimes it does not. Sometimes it is awesome. And then there are the other times.

Regardless, you write. You discover creativity you would not have discovered otherwise. And sometimes it is just plain fun.

Recently we used our 30 minute time block to write on the following prompt: Pros and cons e-book vs printed version. The next four days we will post each of our ramblings. You will see for yourself how different four women’s response to a prompt can be.


Pat Meyers