Paper or Pixels?

One of my 2021 resolutions is to read more tech books. As part of this effort I purchased two MEAPs (Manning Early Access Program) which will include the final printed version when completed.

For now, I’m reading the digital versions as the books are being written. But reading the digital format does not have the same effect for me. Somehow I feel further away from the content than with a printed page in front of me.

But that’s just me. I’m old school and I like to have the printed page in front of me. I can scribble on it, draw unicorns, underline big words, turn the page, bookmark every single page, use post-its, put the book on my book shelf behind me so that everyone can see it in zoom, hug the book or burn it.

Yep, I like the printed page.

So, which format do you prefer?

Paper or Pixels


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Great topic Finner!

I love eBooks for a number of reasons, the most important for me are:

  • If you buy a book in beta, you will be getting up-to-the minute info and be able to access the book at every step of the way until the final release (and even then before the book goes in print)
  • You will usually continue to get updates even after the print version is released
  • If you have a Kindle or e-ink device, you can read it almost anywhere, and the experience is generally very good

Having said that, I recently purchased Programming Erlang as a print book and that was mainly because it was written by Joe Armstrong (one of the fathers of Erlang, who is unfortunately no long with us :cry:) and so it felt like there would be a little bit him here with me, however I’ve really enjoyed having a print book because it’s easier to highlight things - I usually write notes when reading a book but this hasn’t been needed with this book as I can simply go through the book again and just look through my highlights.

Here’s an example of one such highlight:

Going forward, I will probably continue to buy eBooks, not only are they better for the environment but I love all the benefits they have to offer (plus they are cheaper, and when you buy a lot of books like I do that can add up!)


Both, but I like paper more. My latest purchase. I too bought Erlang book for the Book Club (going well that one!). This is probably the best C++ book I got my hands on.

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As Aston said:


  • Often the links are clickable, like links to code examples in Pragmatic Bookshelf books.
  • I read books on my computer, so I can jump to other related stuff (online) with just a press of atl+tab.
  • I don’t need to remember at what page I was if I’m returning to the book after days. The iBooks (Mac), Document Viewer (for PDF on Ubuntu), Calibre E-book viewer (for EPUB on Ubuntu), Manning LiveBook, Packt Reader, Oreilly Learning, all remember where I left a book last time.
  • Often the boilerplate code is repeated in the book too, so you can copy it right from there instead of opening the example code / exercise files.
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I’ve always preferred paper books, but it is convenient to also have your library in ebook form for when you want to do a quick search.


I like both. I find that I get less distracted with a print book, so I prefer to do a deep read in paper. But a searchable ebook is great to use as reference after the fact. I wish more publishers included the ebook with the purchase of paper.

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You hit the nail on the head @jnederhoff ! I need to have the paper book but it is extremely handy to have the digital version alongside for quick reference searches. I think this applies more to technical reading. I prefer paper version when reading non-technical , I rarely have the need for a digital version in that case.

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Physical books for non-fiction (e.g. programming books) and eBooks for fiction. :sweat_smile:

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I like physical books more because you don’t have to look at a screen, it has a more authentic feel. If it were an ebook I’d probably skim through it more than actually read.
I also don’t like looking at a screen too much. I do it anyways, but I feel like such a bad person when I use my phone for too long :sweat_smile:


I ‘think’ the @PragmaticBookshelf used to do this… I wonder if we’ll see it come back soon?

One of things I love about eBooks for programming books is that you can buy them in beta and you keep getting updates - so they don’t go out of date as quickly…