News & Opinion

I Love My Kindle, But I Still Love Print

by on January 7, 2013

Not long ago, I was one of those librarians who scoffed at e-books and Kindles. On principle, I swore I would never use either.  I have a confession to make: I received a Kindle as a gift and enjoy using it. While I was slow to catch on to e-books, others are not. A study by David J. Gray and Andrea J. Copeland noted that between 2005 and 2010, the availability of e-books in public libraries rose 36 percent1.  The study also found that “20 percent of the highest circulating e-books circulated at the same level or better than the highest circulating print copy of the same title2. No doubt patron demand for e-books will continue to grow, despite complex usage and licensing issues.

There is one major caveat: I still belong to the cult of the printed book. The benefit of owning print books is that you can do what you want with them. For example, with history books, I highlight and write notes in the margins. Of course, e-books are convenient, and save space. Kindles are great fun because you can play games on them too. For librarians, using these gadgets enables us to learn new technologies. Yet, I find myself wanting to own the print version of an enjoyable e-book. This does not mean you do not truly “own” an e-book. I just like to have the book sitting snugly on the shelf.

In the battle between e-book versus print, it really depends on the individual. Gray and Copeland cited two studies in which 6o percent of college-aged academic library users preferred printed texts to e-books3. Of this group, 80 percent used both4.  Some folks will completely abandon traditional reading modes and embrace the new. Like the study participants, I will use both. I now understand it is unwise to remain a Luddite on this issue. I love my Kindle, but I will never lose my love for the “old-fashioned” book.

References

[1] Gray, David J. and Andrea J. Copeland, “E-Book versus Print,” Reference & User Services Quarterly 51, no. 4 (2012): 334,  Library Literature & Information Science Full Text (accessed December 11, 2012), http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=77066259&site=ehost-live

[2] Gray and Copeland, “E-Book versus Print,” 337.

[3] Gray and Copeland, “E-Book versus Print,” 335.

[4] Gray and Copeland, “E-Book versus Print,” 335.


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