I, most definitely, am the former. I always read the book first. Always.
With the book-turned-movie "Gone Girl" now in theaters, I find myself – yet again – putting off a trip to the cinema until I turn that final page. I love comparing books and movies, but only after I read the work in its original and intended form. As someone who hopes to have a published novel one day, I feel it's only fair to the author to read before watching. But that's not the only reason I always choose books first.
I love books because of how they make you use your imagination. When you read a book, you create the images of the characters and settings based simply on the author's descriptive words. But when you watch the movie first, those images are spoon-fed to you, and they're not your own. They're some Hollywood big shot's interpretation of an author's descriptions. On the rare (and most of the time, accidental) occasions where I read the book after watching a visual adaptation, I found it hard not picture the film's actors and actresses instead of creating my own images. Where's the creativity in that?
And let's face it, the sense of accomplishment you feel after finishing a 900-page book just isn't the same as ejecting a 120-minute DVD from its player. A lot more work goes into reading a book, and if you're already familiar with a story because you binge-watched the first season on HBO GO, you probably won't have that same motivation to read it cover to cover.
The book is always so much more detailed than the movie or television show. The complainer in me prefers to grumble about what was left out in the movie rather than admit, "Oh, that makes more sense now. They didn't really explain all that back story in the movie."
I often ask people which method they prefer, and when they tell me they're movie-then-book people I make them defend their reasons. They normally say something along the lines of not wanting to ruin the movie by reading the book first, which is a fair enough answer – because movies can be ruined. Books cannot.
Based on my very unscientific conclusions of non-randomized sampling, I've found that despite people's reading-watching preferences, they always say the same thing: The book is always better.
And there's no arguing with that.