Ebooks. Print Books. What’s Your Preference?

The latest issue of the Dal Gazette features a lead article on the Dal Libraries quarter-of-a-million-and-growing electronic book collection. Reading books online is becoming increasingly the norm–it’s great to be able to access what you want when you want it, no matter where you are. But there are issues with ebooks. The vendors from whom we buy them often place restrictions on how many people can access an ebook at one time, or on how much of the ebook can be printed off.

How do you you feel about electronic versus print books?


  1. okanta leonard B0047734 says

    I find using the e-book option problematic and inconsistent. For instance, next week’s readings for HIST3092 consist of two e-book pieces which I cannot access. The first is a piece by Mark von Hagen which Novanet finds in the Mount St. Vincent collection but attempts to access that are restricted to MSVU’s staff and students. The second is a piece by Ronald Suny. We are to read Chapter 2 (pages 20-83). Again, Novanet finds the piece (Revenge of the Past) but directs me to a U. Michigan site that will only display pages 21-23).

    How are we supposed to complete assignments on time when we cannot access e-book pieces?

  2. Phyllis Ross says

    Both of those readings are available electronically to you, via the WorldCat interface or the Novanet catalogue. Please contact me at phyllis.ross@dal.ca or the Killam Reference Desk for further assistance.

  3. Liz says

    Print books! Staring at a screen, any screen, for hours at a time is something I find to be impossible. I do not think I would enjoy any readings or books if I were forced to read them electronically. I also like to make notes in the margins of articles and books (that are my own).
    I’m also not sure of the “cradle to grave” situation for e-books. How do you recycle them? Can they be recycled? What is their life span?

  4. Phil says

    I am in favor of E-books. They are much more versitile. They can be searched. They can be highlighted/unhighlighted easily and neatly. They won’t put your back out carrying them. They wont get ruined in the rain (keep copies.) Most importantly, they are environmentally friendly. This day in age, printed books are a gluttenous luxery and a waste.

    The printed book is a dinosaur, going the way of casettes and CDs. It might be nice to sit and read a hard copy of a book, but compare it to your music collection. Yes, vinyl records do sound superior to digital media, but 95% of people can’t truely tell, and 99% don’t care. The minute loss in quality is far outweighed by the added convenience of taking your entire music library with you everywhere you go.

  5. says

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the printed book is a “dinosaur,” but the ebook is with us and it’s not going away any time soon. We purchase ebooks at Dalhousie for many reasons, but the chief one is convenience. People don’t have to slog through weather (like we had yesterday) to come to the library and physically take a book off the shelf. In some cases, many people can consult an ebook title at the same time. Ebooks cannot be damaged or stolen or defaced. When we buy ebooks, we are normally granted “perpetual access.” What that means is anyone’s guess, and they haven’t been around long enough for the concept to be tested. So, we in the library are riding the ebook learning curve along with everyone else and wondering where it will take us.

  6. D Lewis says

    For the quickness of fuzzy searching for inter-related topics for assignments and essays – I find e-books a real time saver.

    But for the real gems of articles and texts that I want to keep for future reference long after Dal’s subscription to the database provider for that paper or e-book has expired – a hardcopy is the way to go.

    Both formats have their uses – depending on the timeline of how long you plan to *keep* the info provided. I want to *hand down* my Dickens hardcopy collection to my grandchildren and not have to worry if their word processors will be able to interpret the text format 20 years from now if I gave it to them as a e-copy.

  7. says

    The eBook debate became more interesting since HarperCollins issued its dictum that beginning March 7, its ebooks will be subject to a license restriction limiting the number of times they can be checked out. The number HarperCollins settled on is 26, and their argument for this is revenue based (print books wear out after a certain amount of use and have to be replaced, so why should they lose sales just because eBooks don’t suffer the same kind of physical wear and tear?). Once the eBook has reached its lending limit, it will be locked down and if a patron wants to borrow it the library will be forced to buy it again. (See NYTmes article:

    This is just a reminder that there are ways to exploit new technologies for gain that remain untapped. HarperCollins claims they are protecting their authors. Maybe so, but the strategy they are adopting smacks of greed, because what they are actually doing is placing books by their authors at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. It remains to be seen if other publishers level the field by placing similar restrictions on their titles. One wonders too if publishers will begin to sell personal copies of eBooks to individuals that will expire after a certain pre-ordained time period, determined by the anticipated physical capacity of a printed book to withstand repeated readings. Here is another threat to the author of the eBook, whose words may not be available to future generations of readers if entrusted solely to the digital realm.

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