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eBooks vs. Printed Books: Is Book Printing Worth It?

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The rise of eBooks and digital reading has disrupted the traditional publishing industry, leaving many to wonder – are physical, printed books still worth it in the modern age? As eBooks gain popularity for their convenience and accessibility, the battle of eBooks vs. printed books rages on.

Are eBooks genuinely superior, or do printed books still hold value that makes investing in book printing worthwhile? Even more importantly, if you’re self-publishing a book, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it to release a physical book or if you want to offer a digital one.

This article will explore the pros and cons of eBooks vs. physical books, examining factors like cost, reading experience, and market trends to help you determine if printed book publishing remains a viable path in our increasingly digital world.

eBooks vs. Printed Books: Comparing the Two

eBooks are digital-only books that are meant to be read on an eReader, tablet, or any other mobile device. Printed books are crafted on paper in hardback or paperback form. We’re breaking down ebook vs print book advantages and disadvantages to give you a sense of how the two compare.

Printed Book Advantages and Disadvantages for Readers


  • Tactile Experience – Ability to hold a real book, turn pages
  • Better Reading Experience – Some readers swear that retain information better
  • No Eyestrain – Reading on paper is easier on the eyes than screens
  • No Battery or Charger Required – Books never run out of battery life
  • Collectibility – Can have books signed, build a home library
  • Visual Appeal – Beautiful book design, cover art, typography
  • Gift-Giving – Printed books make thoughtful gifts


  • Less Portability – Have to carry the physical book(s) around
  • Storage Space – Physical books take up room on bookshelves
  • Higher Prices – Printed books often cost more than ebooks
  • Physical Weight – Carrying multiple books can get heavy
  • Accessibility – Font size is fixed on the printed page

eBook Advantages and Disadvantages for Readers


  • Portability – Can carry an entire library’s worth of books on a single device
  • Instant Access – Purchase and download new eBooks instantly anywhere
  • Adjustable Font – Ability to increase font size for easier reading
  • Built-In Dictionary – Tap on words to quickly define them
  • Space Saving – Don’t require any physical shelf space for storage
  • Lower Prices – Many eBook versions are cheaper than print editions


  • Eyestrain – Reading on screens for long periods can cause fatigue
  • Distractions – Notifications and apps on the same device can interrupt reading
  • Battery Life – Risk of device running out of power when reading
  • Technology Dependence – Need compatible devices/apps to read eBooks
  • Lacks Physicality – Don’t get the tangible feeling of a real printed book
  • Not Collectible – Inability to have books signed or build a home library
  • Digital Licensing Limits – May lose access if formats or terms change

Physical Books for Self-Publishers

It’s not true that print books are out of style. Surveys on eBooks vs printed books revealed that 68% of younger readers (18 to 29-year-olds) in the U.S. prefer print books. Furthermore, 63% of people over 65 in the US read a printed book in the last year, while only 17% have read an eBook in the same amount of time. It’s a lot to consider when you’re looking at self-publishing a book!

There may be reasons you choose one or the other based on your specific target audience or the type of book you’re selling. A coffee table book of beautiful landscapes would be a poor candidate for an eBook experience, while an interactive book with sound effects would probably work best on an eReader.

If you’re thinking of printing a book make sure to r each out the the experts at Print Bind Ship. We have 60 years of experience in book printing, binding, and fulfillment!

Pros of Self-Publishing Printed Books

Looking to self-publish a printed book? Here are some of the benefits you can expect to experience:

  • Readers don’t need a specific device or an internet connection. If your reader’s internet connection goes down or the power goes out, your books will still work.
  • Studies show that retention is higher with printed books. Even though eReader speeds are faster, the information doesn’t stick as well. This is true across age ranges.
  • Your customers own the book. They never have to worry about your book being removed from a digital storefront.
  • Your customers can share your books with friends. There are no compatibility issues or storage space limits — they can just hand the book to someone else (bonus points — you gain word-of-mouth advertising!).
  • Eye strain is nearly non-existent.

eReaders have made great strides in being easier on the eyes, but none of them are as glare-free and clear in bright sunlight as a printed page.

Cons of Self-Publishing Printed Books

Of course, there are drawbacks to self-publishing printed books, too. These include:

  • Printed books take a lot more upfront cash to publish. That sense of permanence and value comes with an initial cost. As your books increase in sales you’ll make the money back, but physical, tangible objects will cost more to deal with than digital books.
  • Printed books usually cost more for the customer. For example, as of the time of this writing, the John Grisham novel A Time For Mercy costs $9.99 on Kindle and $13.89 on paperback.
  • Getting books into the hands of customers is way slower than with eBooks. An eBook is available to read immediately. A printed book must be created, stored, and shipped to the customer.

eBooks for Self-Publishers

As digital devices become more prevalent, eBooks will likely grow in popularity. Lower-income readers may prefer eBooks due to their lower accessibility cost. While 86% of people who make over $75,000 annually read a printed book in the last year, only 62% of people who make less than $30,000 annually read a printed book over that same time.

As you work on self-publishing a book, remember that eBooks get returned at high rates because it’s easy to do so (and they get pirated a lot). There are ways of combating these high return rates, but it’s still a larger issue than it is for printed books.

Pros of eBooks

Publishing time is incredibly short to get an eBook on the market. Publishing on Amazon, for example, involves uploading your book in Word Doc or PDF format and then waiting 24 to 48 hours for it to appear on the storefront.

Other benefits of self-publishing eBooks include:

  • Your customers can get your book instantly.
  • It’s cheap. In fact, in most cases, publishing an eBook is free. You’ll pay royalties, but the upfront costs can be small or even nonexistent.
  • eBooks are convenient. They take up no physical space, so your customers can have hundreds or even thousands of books on one small device.
  • Flexibility is huge. Readers can manipulate fonts, colors, and font sizes.

Cons of eBooks

Drawbacks to self-publishing eBooks include:

  • You have no control over when your book is removed from a digital storefront (unless it’s hosted on your website).
  • Your eBook is one of over 6 million digital books hosted on Amazon alone. Breaking through the clutter is an uphill battle.
  • Sharing your eBook is more difficult than it is with a printed book.
  • The royalties can be high — up to 70% of the cost of the book.
  • You have to pay close attention to formatting.

Not every eReader can read documents in every format, and it’s not always possible to make your book look how you want it to in a Word Doc or PDF.

Choosing Between eBooks vs. Printed Books

Self-publishing an ebook can be faster, easier, and cheaper. You can get your ebook published and available for download online within just a few days. There are no upfront printing or inventory costs, and profit margins on ebook sales can be higher over time. Promoting and distributing an eBook to a global audience is also simpler through major online retailers. However, ebook-only self-publishing means readers must own specific devices and you lose that tangible customer experience of selling a physical product.

Self-publishing a print book enables wider promotion opportunities like book signings, sales booths, and getting your book physically in stores. Print books can establish more authority and credibility for you as an author. However, the upfront investment for editing, printing, and storing inventory is higher, not to mention the need to handle shipping and fulfillment logistics yourself. Lead times to getting your book available in the market also take longer.

There’s no definitive right or wrong approach – it depends on your goals, target audience, content type, and availability of initial funding, among other factors. Many authors choose to self-publish both an eBook and print book to enjoy the unique benefits of each format.

Taking the time to objectively weigh the pros and cons of each option in relation to your specific book and situation is key to deciding the best path forward.

5 Things to Consider When Self-Publishing a Printed Book vs eBook

After going through the aforementioned points, if you decide to self-publish a printed book, keep the following points in mind:

1. Where to Sell Your Book

Selling physical books comes with the decision to do print-on-demand vs. having a bunch of books preprinted up at once to be sold. Either way, you can sell them on your website, which provides you with the greatest percentage of profits and offers the best connection with your customers. You can also sell through online marketplaces like Amazon FBA, but what you gain in convenience, you lose in control.

2. Working with Print-on-Demand (PoD) Services

Print-on-demand services allow you to sell your books without having to deal with unsold inventory. When a customer orders a book, it gets printed up and shipped out. Using a third-party logistics (3PL) partner can be particularly helpful as your book sales increase. A 3PL service will print, store, and ship your books so you don’t have to worry about the fulfillment process.

3. Promoting Your Book

Buy social media ads, have a good online presence, do interviews, send out news releases, and give away copies to reviewers. Having your own website is crucial because you can create email lists and collect demographic data for your customers. It’s all part of growing your personal brand.

4. Costs and Profit Margins

Publishing an eBook may be cheap or even free, but you can give up more than you’d think. To use Amazon as an example again, you relinquish 30% of the profits if your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. If your book is $10 or more, you’ll give up 65% of the profits.

When you’re selling printed books, it might cost you a few dollars to print the book, but you get to set the price.

5. Book Distribution and Fulfillment

Letting a third party deal with printing, storing, and shipping your books solves a multitude of issues. You don’t have to manage inventory or returns.

As your book increases in sales and shipping speed becomes paramount, your shipping partner can print a run of books in advance and ship them as customers purchase them.

Print Bind Ship is Your Go-To for Printing Physical Books

At the end of the day, both eBooks vs printed books have their merits in the modern world. While the convenience and portability of eBooks can’t be denied, printed physical books offer tangible benefits that digital formats simply cannot quite replicate.

From the sensory experience of holding a printed book to the lasting value of owning a permanent library, printed books remain very much “worth it” for many readers and publishers. Companies like Print Bind Ship understand that book printing is still a thriving industry catering to those who cherish the printed word. As eBooks and digital publishing evolve, so too will the art of crafting beautifully bound printed books. The battle of “eBooks vs printed books” is far from over – the two can coexist to satisfy all avid readers. Embracing that perspective allows publishers to deliver the best reading experiences in both formats.

If you’re a self-published author or publishing company looking to place an order for printed books, look no further than Print Bind Ship! We’re the experts when it comes to book printing, binding, and fulfillment. Get in touch for a free quote!


Are eBooks replacing print books?

While eBook adoption has steadily grown, printed books have remained resilient and show no signs of being completely replaced anytime soon. For many readers, collectors, and publishers, there is still strong demand and appreciation for the physical printed book experience that cannot be replicated by digital formats. So while eBooks may continue gaining market share, print books are likely here to stay as a beloved reading medium.

Which format provides a better reading experience – eBooks or printed books?

When it comes to reading experience, both eBooks and printed books have their unique advantages. With eBooks, you can conveniently carry an entire library in a lightweight device, adjust font size, search for keywords, and even listen to audiobooks. 

Printed books, on the other hand, offer a more tactile experience with the smell and feel of the pages, the physical presence on bookshelves, and the satisfaction of turning actual pages. Ultimately, the preference between the two formats comes down to personal taste and convenience.

Are eBooks more cost-effective than printed books?

eBooks are often more cost-effective than printed books. They are typically priced lower, especially for digital editions of popular titles or during e-book promotions. Additionally, eBooks offer the convenience of immediate delivery, saving you time and expense compared to purchasing printed books from physical stores. 

Furthermore, eBooks eliminate shipping costs and the risk of damage during transportation. So, if you’re looking to save some money without compromising your reading experience, eBooks can be a wise choice.

Which is better, an ebook or a printed book?

There’s no way to say for certain whether eBooks vs printed books are “better”, as each has its own set of pros and cons that make them preferable for different readers and scenarios. Ultimately, it comes down to personal reading preferences – some may favor the convenience and portability of eBooks, while others cherish the tactile, focused experience of printed books. The ideal scenario allows both formats to coexist and cater to each reader’s needs.

What are the disadvantages of eBooks?

Ebooks may strain the eyes with prolonged screen exposure, and some readers prefer the tactile experience of physical books. Additionally, compatibility issues with different e-reader devices or software platforms can be a drawback.

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