This article was originally published on the Packt Community site on August 26, 2020.

Some readers prefer a physical copy while others prefer a digital one. What are the pros and cons of each?

Physical Books

I fully admit it, I personally prefer a physical copy of a technical book to its digital counterpart. There’s just something about having a tangible object in my hands, but it goes beyond that. I can easily flip back and forth if I need to cross-reference a term or concept. That’s a lot harder in a digital book; I would need to set a bookmark at each point and have easy access to those bookmarks. With a physical book, I can just use my hand.

However, there is a downside. They cost more, they take up space, and you have to carry them with you when you want to take them somewhere. These are some major drawbacks for people. Far too often, they end up on a shelf, gathering dust. And that’s if they make it onto a shelf in the first place.

Digital Books

As much as I love physical books, there is a place for digital books, which I take full advantage of. I love the (usually) lower cost and that many can be read easily on my phone. They are easy to organize, can be bookmarked and highlighted, and travel easy. I always have something (rather, hundreds of somethings) to read on my Kindle app on my phone for the random five minutes of waiting in line at the store.

On the other hand, PDFs have not been phone friendly in my experience. While most (recent) technical books are on the Kindle, not all are. Some have a price tag close to that of their physical counterpart, which doesn’t always make sense.

Best of Both Worlds

So how do we get the best of both? Right now, there is no easy solution. I look forward to the day when everyone has a book that has physical pages, but those pages are all digital. But we’re nowhere close to that as of yet. Thankfully, many technical publishers have stepped up to offer a steep discount of adding the digital book, or just giving it to you, if you order the physical copy. For now, that might be as good as we can get.

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