Deciding when to purchase hard copy vs. digital books

Image result for book vs kindle images

Not all books are created equally, and by extension, we make judgements about how we want to invest our time and treasure into the books we consider reading.

I recently found myself making the decision to forgo purchasing a Kindle download of a book that I want to read when it is released on May 8th. The temptation to do so was strong, because acquiring it via Kindle means I could read it during our fast approaching vacation.

However, upon further thought, I decided that this particular book was one I preferred to own in hard copy so that it would be around for years to come. Digital, despite our heavy cultural and occupational dependence on it, is quite fragile.Ask anyone who has lost a treasure trove of digitally stored photgraphs!

Despite the ease of being able to carry thousands of books around with us in one digital device, hard copy books are sometimes worth the expense and the attendant sacrificing of real estate on the book shelf.

It often seems implausible to us in this technological age of easy access to information, but there have been many books written about, movies filmed depicting, and periods in history when unapproved books or literature were sought out for destruction as dangerous to possess. The book I am purchasing doesn’t appear to be remotely at risk of ever being such a book. Nevertheless, it is one that I believe is worth having in hard copy rather than digital. So, I’ll have to wait an extra week before I can order it.

Other books, such as Miss Maitland Private Secretary, are definitely for my reading purposes, best purchased in digital format or borrowed from the library. As enjoyable as it was, it didn’t rise to the level of a book to build a library with in the way novels such as Jane Eyre, Peter Pan, or If Beale Street Could Talk might.

As I considered these questions I thought of the number of books I’ve read as part of Christian mommy book clubs or must read magazine lists that I later wished I had borrowed from the library or purchased in a cheaper, less cluttery format. There are still several of them on my bookshelves, just waiting to be donated.

This thought exploration made me curious how many readers here make similar disticntions when purchasing books. How do you decide which ones are worth buying in hard copy form for your personal  library,which ones are worth buying the digital downloads, and which are best borrowed from the library?

Picture credit, Tim Challies, whose linked article dovetails with this one.

9 thoughts on “Deciding when to purchase hard copy vs. digital books

  1. hearthie says:

    Good question!

    I have any number of books on my nook that I wish I’d bought in paper – I’d like to loan them out, and mostly you can’t do that, even if both parties have a nook.

    Contrariwise, my physical library is pretty full. And I DO fall into the “must purchase right NOW” mindset, particularly for fiction.

    I’d say that going forward, assuming I can sit on my impatience, ordering a book is better if I plan to share it, and e-book when, were it paper, it would be part of my extensive collection of tattered paperbacks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Curly Sue says:

    I have about 140 cookbooks (hard copy and digital). I will pick up cookbooks I’m interested in for my Kindle if they’re on sale for $3.99 or less (versus $25 to $40 hard copy). But, I like to take notes after I’ve made a recipe, such as ingredient adjustments, cooking time, and I also rate the recipe from 1 to 5 stars. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that my notes and bookmarks have disappeared from a few e-books after they’ve been on the cloud for a while.

    I prefer hard copy for cookbooks in the long run and if I really like a kindle cookbook I’ve purchased, I will eventually buy it in hard copy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elspeth says:

    Wow, Curly Sue! And I thought I had a lot of cookbooks with about 25. Well, maybe 3, but that’s not even counting the ones my daughter has.

    I also noticed that notes and bookmarks missing from e-books. I sometimes like to put little post-it strips in hard copy books to remember things I want to come back to later. At least I know they aren’t going anywhere. Usually.


  4. Elspeth says:

    The thing I am noticing is that rather than be like Challies, and go ALL e-books, or like the guy he linked to and go ALL hard copy, there are times and reasons to use one over the other.

    My realization is that even if I REALLY want to purchase something “right now”, but I know I’d rather have it hard copy, to settle my little impatient self down, spend the extra couple of bucks, and wait the few days for the hard copy to get here.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The Practical Conservative says:

    A large amount of what I want to read isn’t in ebook, so I have to buy a lot of hard copies if I want anything by those authors. And it’s also not at libraries. The problem is slightly less dire with kids’ books, but not nearly as much vintage stuff is ebook’d as I would have expected by now. And as far as kids’ books, we both want the kids to have their initial and formative experiences with books in paper form and having a core of kids’ classics always available is really helpful towards that end.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Elspeth says:

    You are quite right about the trouble with finding a significant number of vintage books in electronic form. And the hard copies on some more obscure vintage titles give me sticker shock.
    We also prefer hard copy for the kids to read. Luckily, so do they.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robyn says:

    I purchase hard copies mostly for political reasons and to support, plus in a coffee shop they make great conversation starters. I’m a curious cat type, whenever I see someone reading in public, I always wonder, “What are they reading and why?” (people’s bookshelves reveal so much)

    Also, I prefer hard copy for days when I do devotions.

    Often, I run into the same problem as The Practical Conservative, obscure preferences, putting hard copies into the expensive category. But for most of my reading, I prefer my laptop because I find it extremely difficult to NOT make notes as I read.

    Although, I did just order 4 books from Grace Community Church (J MacArthur) — in hard copy. There’s always some exceptions I guess 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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