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Don’t Panic, Print Books Aren’t Going Anywhere

by on October 13, 2017

Our world is inundated with digital technology: mobile phones, laptops, iPads, smart cars, smart homes… The entirety of human knowledge is at our fingertips. The Internet revolutionized how we access information. It wasn’t long before people began to predict that the elimination of print was on the horizon. After all, when the Amazon Kindle was release in November 2007, it sold out in five and a half hours. It was five months before they became available again to the market; they were in such high demand.[1]

That was ten years ago, and print is still here. Even though e-readers are more popular than ever, they are not replacing physical books. As it turns out, some genres just lend themselves better to print than to digital. Have you ever tried to read a children’s e-book to a three-year-old? As a children’s librarian, I assure you it’s impossible. There’s nothing quite like a physical book to capture the imagination of children. Textbooks and cookbooks are also much more popular in print than in digital, studies show.[2]

For all that e-readers are popular, only about 8 percent of American readers claim to read exclusively on digital format. A signification portion of readers read a combination of print and digital: 30 percent. [3] There is even a gender divide, with men more likely to read on a computer and women comprising the bulk of e-readership. Interestingly enough, no correlations between number of e-books read and preference for e-books seem to exist: meaning that the number of e-books read does not predispose readers to reading digitally.[4]

Reported reasons for reading have remained relatively unchanged over the last several years; most people (80 percent) report reading for pleasure. Reading to keep up with current events and for specific research are also very high on the list of reasons to read: 47 percent and 84 percent respectively. [5]

This preference for print over digital reading holds true for millennials as well as older generations. Even though the new crop of students is the most technologically savvy cohort to ever enter universities, students do not prefer e-books over textbooks regardless of gender, computer use, or comfort with a computer. [6]

With so much reading going on, it’s possible that print books are preferred for another completely practical reason: reading on screens tires out your eyes much faster than reading on paper. Furthermore, the national sleep foundation has reported that so much bright light disrupts natural sleep patterns.[7] So while there are few people who would, or could, dispute the convenience of e-books on mobile devices, reading on a bright screen just can’t replace a good, old-fashioned book.


References

  1. “Amazon Kindle: A history of the world’s best e-reader.” Trusted Reviews. Accessed August 21, 2017. http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinion/a-history-of-the-amazon-kindle-2946395.
  2. “Print books still preferred in the technological age.” The Exponent. Accessed August 1, 2017. http://www.purdueexponent.org/campus/article_68412e2c-7232-11e7-b759-b73802a8610e.html.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. “E-books or textbooks: Students prefer textbooks.” Computers & Education. Accessed August 20, 2017. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131510001120.
  7. “Print books still preferred in the technological age.” The Exponent. Accessed August 1, 2017. http://www.purdueexponent.org/campus/article_68412e2c-7232-11e7-b759-b73802a8610e.html.

 


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