Books as Memories (Or, Why I Will Always Love Physical Books)

Ebooks or physical books? This is not a new discussion in the age of Kindles and digital editions of our favorite novels. Even so, this was never something I ever really thought much about. But in the past few months I've taken to borrowing Kindle editions of books from my library and I've had plenty of opportunity to decide which reading experience I prefer.

Obviously, an e-reader wins when it comes to convenience. If you have an ereader, you have direct access to so many books. You can purchase them from so many different online stores or borrow them from your library's digital collection. You can travel with a whole library at your fingertips and yet so much more room in your bags.

Ease of Use
I'm sure we've all had that embarrassing and painful experience of using your phone while lying on your back, only to drop it right on your face. I can speak from experience that this experience is even worse when it's a 400-plus page book you're dropping on yourself. Kindles and other e-readers quite literally streamline the reading process by encapsulating thousands of chunky texts in a slim tablet. When I lived in San Francisco, my Kindle completely revolutionized my public transportation experience. It's much easier to hang from a handhold on the bus and turn the page on a Kindle than to try and flip through a worn out paper back. If you have bad eyes, you have the option to enlarge the text and if you like to annotate, you can do so without worrying about losing your pencil.

Books as Memories
Having said all that, it may seem like I am writing an advertisement for the Kindle or, at the very least, prefer ebooks to physical books. That could not be more wrong. Regardless of convenience or how easy reading becomes with an e-reader, I will always have a strong love for physical books as little memory objects.

While an ebook is simply a bunch of pixels and coding that happen to come together to tell a story, all of my physical books bear physical scars of each reading. Most of my books have worn looking spines and many also contain notes and doodles in the margins. Dog ears and sticky notes run wild. But most importantly, each mark and fold is a physical reminder of the time and place where I consumed that story.

What do you think? Do you prefer ebooks or physical books, and why?


  1. I love the idea of ebooks, but for me they just don't work.
    every once in a while i read one on my phone or ipad, but I don't love the experience..
    I like holding the actualy book, flipping the pages and leaving my mark on them. (whether that is a broken spine or writing/underlining etc.)

    1. Oh, definitely, reading on my iPhone is NOT something I enjoy. And I'll admit that keeping my books pristine has never been something I've cared about. I'd rather my books look like they've been read and loved!