The War of Paper and Digital

Michelle McGuinty (’24) outlines the pros and cons of digital versus print books. She asks, “Which is better,” inviting readers to draw their own conclusions.

1993—the longest war in known history was born, e-books as the match. They’re classic. They’re modern. They’re reliable. They’re accessible. They hold history. They made history.

Digital books were first created in 1971 but weren’t sold until 1993. Long after the estimated start of words on parchment around 500 BC. But which is better has always been the question.

E-books started just like digital books but grew with the explosion of the internet. There are now countless platforms to use, from professional and peer-edited to unedited and written by a young student. Digital books have an endless variety, customizations galore, and settings for a wide range of ability. Not only that, but without hundreds of paper pages, it’s lighter and better for the environment.

On the other hand, physical books are just that—physical. They can be signed, have more designs, and hold a higher value. Paper books also have to go through the publication process, meaning they are fully edited and finished pieces. Lastly, many people prefer physical books because of the feeling they get from the smell, the turning of the pages, the bookmarks, the aesthetic overall.

When it comes to the question: which is better? The answer lies with the reader. Both media types hold mystical tales that come to life in your mind, and any way you want to immerse yourself—is valid.

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