Why do people love print books?

Printed books are here to stay!

Do you prefer a print book or e-book? Hardback or paperback? These simple questions can spark surprising amounts of debate amongst readers. Clearly each have their pros and cons and we all have personal preferences. Interesting research by Neilson suggests that, in the UK, people under the age of 44 make up 63% of the market for physical books, while 52% of e-book sales are to those over 45. Physical books till outsell e-books, although crime, romance and thrillers are popular on e-readers.

When I first discovered e-books I bought a library full, enthused by the choice of taking so many books on holiday or on the train. However, I soon became frustrated, unable to remember the titles of books I’d read and enjoyed, sometimes accidently buying a print copy without realising I’d already read the book.

Whilst hardbacks can look beautiful on the bookshelf and are long lasting, they can be harder to manage when reading – particularly if you have a habit of reading in bed and have ever been clocked in the head by one as you fall asleep!

To me, a well-worn paperback is a much loved book. It means I have interacted with the text in some way. Argumentative comments, ticks and exclamation marks scribbled in the margins of my factual books, show how much I engaged with the material. In novels, I underline paragraphs I’ve enjoyed or, for want of a pencil, bend the bottom corners so I can re-find them . Guilty of reading several books at a time, I create diagrams of relationships inside the front cover, to help recall who is who. If there is important information about characters I make a note of the page number next to their name. The sins of bent corners*, writing in the margins, an ill-chosen bookmark, highlighting passages  – all of these things can provoke huge debate and passionate argument amongst readers.

Many of my friends and family were awaiting the release of the paperback version of Her Little Secret. Whilst ebooks and audio are a convenient way of taking your library with you when travelling, it seems many of us still love to hold a book in our hands!

*In the US there is even a second hand book shop called Bent Corners

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