Paper or Plastic: E-readers or Paper Books?

Paper or Plastic: E-readers or Paper Books?

It's 2016, which means many of you bookish friends out there probably own an e-reader of some kind. I personally started with a Nook when they first came out back in 2009, and am now on my third e-reader, a Kindle Paperwhite. After talking to several friends about their reading preferences, it seems like there are some clear reasons people prefer a real book to an e-reader, or vise versa, especially in specific situations. 

For people who have kids, paper books are important to have around, mainly because many of my friends (and myself included) want their children to watch them reading a physical book vs. watch them stare at a mysterious screen. Most of us spend enough time staring at our phones and computer screens with our kids around, it's refreshing to pick up a paper book. Also, paper books are often beautiful, intriguing objects for kids, and they notice and take interest in them. Everyone I know is deeply invested in having their kids share a love of reading, and this is one way we can help foster that love.

For when you're traveling, e-readers seem to win, hands down. You can store a variety of books, the e-readers take up almost no space in your carry-on, purse, or suitcase, and you can instantly download new books from the library or from your preferred digital bookstore...I think this is a no-brainer for most people. The instant download perk is also amazing if you just finished a book and need the sequel RIGHT NOW; you can just pop on the library website (or Amazon, etc) and download the sequel in about a minute flat. The instant access to anything you want to read is definitely hard to resist. 

On another note: got a gigantic doorstop of a 900-pager? Many people prefer those on an e-reader for ease (those books are cumbersome!) but also because it isn't as evident how woefully far you have to go. On the flip side, a lot of people enjoy paper books because they CAN see their progress, weigh in their hands the block of pages left to read, and note with satisfaction when their bookmark moves forward.

Speaking of ease, any e-reader with a backlight means you can stay in bed with the lights off and read without getting annoyed at your light source. Anyone else ever have that unpleasant experience of overhead lighting just glaring into your eyes and becoming an annoyance? A backlit e-reader totally eliminates that potential discomfort.

I've also heard from people that formatting and content will determine which medium they choose. E-books definitely don't always give a good experience if the book has odd formatting, pictures, or any other anomaly in it. And anything you read that would require referencing other chapters or pages quickly will merit a paper version. Like a book of poetry, where you may want to flip to a certain poem, or when reading philosophy and you need to back reference the previous pages quickly or flip to a footnote. Basically anything that you need to be able to quickly and nimbly move around to specific spots in the text, an e-book probably isn't going to be the better option.

A last consideration for me personally, is the fact that a stack of paper books; a physical, visual, stack, is better motivation for picking one up than my Kindle is. The Kindle can blend in with the bottom shelf of my nightstand and be half forgotten if I'm not currently working through a book. But a big stack of paper library books on my floor? They act as an inviting physical reminder to pick one up. They are just far more tempting and attention grabbing. For this reason, I do largely read paper books (thanks again, library!) but am super grateful for my Kindle as well; it certainly comes in handy!

What about you? Do you have a strong preference for one over the other, or is it situational? I'd love to hear!