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Printed Book vs. eBook: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 7, 2023
A printed book is a physical publication made of paper, while an ebook is a digital version readable on electronic devices.

Key Differences

A printed book, as its name suggests, is a traditional form of reading material where text and images are inked onto paper pages. This physical medium has been prevalent for centuries, offering readers a tactile experience.
In contrast, an ebook, short for "electronic book", is a digital version of a text. It can be downloaded and read on various electronic devices, including e-readers, tablets, and computers. The ebook offers a modern reading alternative to the classic printed book.
One of the most notable differences between a printed book and an ebook is their form. While a printed book is tangible, taking up physical space and often cherished for its aesthetic, an ebook exists intangibly, occupying digital space and requiring an electronic device for access.
The way readers interact with printed books and ebooks also differs significantly. Flipping through pages, using bookmarks, and feeling the texture of paper are unique to printed books. On the other hand, ebooks often come with functionalities like adjustable font sizes, digital bookmarks, and keyword searches, making the reading experience customizable.
In essence, while printed books offer a tangible reading experience steeped in tradition, ebooks provide a flexible and digital alternative catering to contemporary needs.

Comparison Chart




Takes up physical space
Stored electronically


Requires physical access
Accessible on devices anytime, anywhere


Limited to tactile experiences
Offers digital functionalities (search, adjust font)


Subject to wear and tear
Not prone to physical damage

Printed Book and eBook Definitions

Printed Book

Comprises inked text on paper.
The quality of the printed book depended on the paper type.


Doesn't require physical space.
Ebooks saved her space in her small apartment.

Printed Book

Requires physical storage space.
His shelves were filled with printed books.


Ebook stands for electronic book.
He downloaded an ebook to read during his commute.

Printed Book

Printed book is a physical publication.
She treasured the printed book from her grandmother.


Readable on electronic devices
. Her tablet stored hundreds of ebooks.

Printed Book

Often bound and covered.
The printed book had a beautiful leather cover.


Often available in various formats.
The ebook was available in PDF and EPUB.

Printed Book

Can be felt and touched.
She loved the texture of her favorite printed book.


Offers digital interactivity.
She quickly searched keywords in the ebook.


Can ebooks have illustrations like printed books?

Yes, ebooks can contain illustrations, graphics, and even interactive elements.

Can I share my ebook with a friend?

Ebooks may have DRM restrictions; always check licensing terms.

Do printed books last longer than ebooks?

While printed books can degrade, ebooks remain unchanged unless the file or device is compromised.

Do printed books and ebooks cost the same?

Often, ebooks are cheaper, but prices vary based on the title and publisher.

Can I make notes in an ebook?

Most e-readers and apps allow for annotations and highlights in ebooks.

Do I need a special device for ebooks?

Ebooks can be read on e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and computers.

What's the main distinction between a printed book and an ebook?

A printed book is a physical object, whereas an ebook is a digital file read on devices.

Is there a weight advantage with ebooks?

Yes, hundreds of ebooks can be stored on one device, much lighter than physical books.

Are all books available as ebooks?

While many titles are, some older or less popular books might not have ebook versions.

Are ebooks environmentally friendly compared to printed books?

Ebooks reduce paper usage, but consider the environmental impact of devices and energy used.

Can printed books be converted into ebooks?

Yes, with proper scanning and software, though copyright considerations apply.

How do I store my ebooks?

Ebooks are stored on devices or cloud services.

Can ebooks run out of print like printed books?

No, ebooks can be infinitely duplicated without "running out."

Can ebooks be interactive?

Yes, some ebooks contain interactive elements, links, or multimedia.

Do I own the ebooks I purchase?

You often buy a license to access the ebook, so you don't "own" it in the traditional sense.

Can I gift an ebook like a printed book?

Yes, many platforms allow gifting ebooks via email or with a code.

Can I print an ebook?

Some ebooks allow printing, but always check licensing restrictions.

Do ebooks have page numbers like printed books?

Some do, but others use location numbers or percentages due to adjustable text sizes.

Is reading an ebook the same experience as a printed book?

While the content might be the same, the tactile experience and digital functionalities differ.

How are printed books and ebooks sourced?

Printed books are bought from bookstores or online, while ebooks are downloaded.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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