8 Fabulous Things About Books that E-readers Lack

Books with RoseLet me begin with a disclaimer—I am not anti-Kindle.

I admit freely to having read several e-books on my iPhone. Indeed, I understand the appeal of e-books. They can be purchased and downloaded instantly. They take up zero physical space and therefore save many a book-lovers’ home from becoming cluttered. And sometimes, they are even less expensive.

No, I’m not here to bash high-tech users of e-readers. Rather, I am, in a fashion, one of them. I consider myself a hybrid reader, dabbling in books and e-books alike.

However, I will never give up my bookshelves, bookends, or bookmarks. I will never completely forsake physical, real, honest-to-goodness, hold-in-your-hands books.

For books, with their pages and ink, will always be my first love. And nothing shall ever convince me that e-books are superior to their paper counterparts. E-books are all well and good and have their place. Yet it must be admitted, by even the most modern tech-savvy of persons, that there are some things they lack.

8 Fabulous Things About Books that E-readers Lack

1. Tactile QualityStack of Books

To read an e-book, one must hold a machine. Whether it’s a Nook or smart phone, the sense of touch is engaged only by a cold electronic device. You don’t truly hold the e-book, feel its weight. It’s a one dimensional object partitioned off by a screen. In this one dimensional reading experience, you lose the variety of tactile qualities books offer. Rich leather, soft cloth, or slick paperback binding. Braille-like embossed lettering. The thin, smooth pages of a new book. The thick, textured parchment of an antique. By engaging our sense of touch, books connect directly with the reader in a manner e-books simply cannot replicate.

2. Aroma

Unless you’re a true bibliophile, this item on my list will most assuredly leave you perplexed and thinking I’m insane. Yet, for those of us with ink printed on our hearts, the scent of a book is nothing short of magical. New books have an aroma which combines fresh cut paper and hot-off-the-press ink. While vintage and antique books have this scent which seems beyond description. Musty? Leathery? Fairy dusty? Whatever it may be, aroma takes ones reading experience beyond the second star to the right. 

3. Satisfaction of Visual Progress

Yes, e-readers keep track of how far along you are in the story. But somehow it’s not as gratifying as watching a bookmark travel across a novel from page one to three-hundred. Perhaps it’s just me, but I greatly enjoy that satisfaction of visual progress.


Speaking of bookmarks, those digital ribbon-type things in e-readers are a poor substitute. With different images, tassels, and charms, each bookmark is a little piece of art. My love for bookmarks is so great I actually coordinate my bookmark to match whatever I’m reading. Surely, I’m not the only person who does so? The lack of hands raised is disconcerting, so I shall move on….

Jane Austen perched on my bookshelf with a DIY tea tin vase.

Jane Austen perched on my bookshelf along with a DIY tea tin vase.

5. Physical Ownership 

Consider: an e-book is never really in your possession. It’s on your device, which means any form of digital melt down, burn out, or system crash, can snatch it away. I personally prefer the security of physical, on my shelf, ownership. Contrary to what Markus Zusak might have you believe, book thieves are much less common than technical difficulties.

6. Limitless Reading Time

Simply put, a book’s battery never dies! No need to stop reading for a recharge.

7. Piece of Art

E-books might display the same covers as traditional books, but seeing those covers through a screen is like viewing art in an online gallery as opposed to actually owning a piece of art in your home. To me, it creates distance and limits the depth of enjoyment.

Quiet Reading Nook8. Quiet

While enjoying an e-book on phone or tablet, you’re in the midst of the fast-paced world with its constant social media notifications and text messages. Your mind is pulled in different directions. Distracted from the story by the inevitable temptation to see what’s happening on Twitter. Books, however, allow you to slow down. Breathe. Disconnect from the internet frenzy and create space for quiet. In that quiet, you can focus on the words. Relax, rest, and realize that you deserve to recharge more than your phone.

Do you consider yourself a book only reader, an e-book only reader, or a hybrid reader? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section. And for those interested in further discussion along these lines, here is a fantastic article called I Miss Reading Books, which delves deeper into number eight on my list.

2 thoughts on “8 Fabulous Things About Books that E-readers Lack

  1. I consider myself a hybrid reader though, like you, I prefer reading actual books for all of the reasons stated about. And you’re not alone. I love the smell of books too haha, especially old books. I’m currently reading an ebook and my poor bookmark is left homeless for now. :(

    • Good day, Victoria! Thank you for the assurance that I’m not alone. :-) I quite agree that old books have the best aroma! When I enter an antique shop filled with old books, I literally spend the first 15 minutes simply inhaling. Like a “normal” person might do in a home-goods store filled with scented candles.

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