Kindles battle books

Posted By Horizon Staff March 3rd, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment : 2 COMMENTS

Allison Cole
Staff Writer

With recent advancements in hand-held technologies such as e-books and tablets, it is easy to think that the death of printed books is right around the corner. In July 2010, less than four years after the introduction of the first e-readers, Amazon.com reported that their e-book sales had surpassed their sales of hard-copy books. From 2007-2011, e-reader sales grew by triple digit percentages each year, and in the first quarter of 2011, Publisher’s Weekly reported that e-book sales were up 159.8 percent and print books were down in sales 23.4 percent, further signifying the seemingly inevitable extinction of printed books.

Fast forward to 2013 and it becomes quite clear that the reports of hard-copy books’ death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the Wall Street Journal, using a December 2012 Pew Research Group Poll, wrote that 59 percent of American adults have “no interest” in buying an e-book. They also reported that 89 percent of regular book readers had read at least one hardcopy book in the last year; only 30 percent have read an e-book.

Interestingly, e-book sales have always been disproportionately skewed towards romance and thrillers (two-thirds of sales are fiction), so it is safe to say that e-books cater to lighter reading. It seems that the academic community has not embraced the e-book revolution.

Second-year student Demi Brown said, “I like reading novels on the Kindle because it’s easier and just for leisure, but for textbooks and for things that I have to find information on, a print book is better.”

Fellow second-year Paige Clenney has a different take on the matter, as she says that the Kindle helps her to retain information better than a print book.

“I like the print book for the fact that I can mark all over it,” Clenney said. “But the cool thing about a Kindle screen is that because my fingers are too fat to mark something, I write quotes out and I’m able to retain things more. And I read faster with a Kindle.”

The academic disparity of e-books versus hard-copy books is not confined to the college environment either. In a study done by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, it was found that when parents co-read with kids in an attempt to foster literacy and better reading habits, children were able to recall significantly more details of the story when reading a book in print. However, the children exhibited enhanced engagement when reading an e-book. Furthermore, a different Pew study from 2011 reported that adults prefer to use hard-copy books when co-reading with their child, as well as when sharing or talking about a text with other adults.

So what place will e-books ultimately hold in the book industry? While the still-growing popularity of e-books is undeniable, much like audio books they work to varying degrees of effectiveness based on the person using them. They lend themselves to easier accessibility and transportation in traveling situations. Instead of being viewed as the end of print books, e-books should be viewed merely as an alternative method of reading; it is clear that despite the many benefits e-books offer, the feel of flipping through the crisp pages of a leather-bound book is not something that can ever be replaced.

 

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