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Digital Versus Print Reading: Convenience Or Connection?

By David L. Hawkins, III / Published on Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 20:33 PM / No Comments / 77 views


In today’s modern age you can do anything from your mobile device. The entire world is at your fingertips; you can access music, movies, and even books. This  increase of accessibility has caused competition between the print and digital markets.

While print remains the most popular way to read, the digital market is growing at a fast rate. Since it is much cheaper to distribute digitally, many newspaper and magazine periodicals are switching completely and leaving print in the past. The question remains: can anything ever really beat print books?

From 2012 to 2013, ebooks had a 23% to 27% market growth in 2013. The ebook phenomenon was growing fast until 2013, where it slowed down to single digit percentages. Despite the slowdown it is still possible for them to start growing again.

Dorman librarian, Mrs. Nelson, prefers reading digitally but says that print books will stick around. People enjoy print books due to that book smell and the feeling of touching the pages. Ebooks cannot capture this connection between reader and reading material; they are simply impersonal.

“I prefer print because it’s more beneficial. For example, if I’m reading a book for class, the physical copy of the book allows me to annotate as needed,” said Sydnie Rogers, junior. While annotations are available on digital resources students seem to gravitate more towards physical copies. This is likely due to the more hands on feelings of actually having to write in the margins instead of just typing something in.

Print books also allow students to study for classes or read for pleasure in peace. Digital reading can come with distractions like notifications, music, social media, and more. When you have a print book you are able to go to a peaceful place where it is just you and the book you’re reading.

On the other hand, Mrs. Nelson prefers ebooks due to their mobility. Her first experience reading an ebook was in Disney World. Her phone allowed her to read while in the long lines waiting on a ride. By the end of her trip she had almost finished her entire book.

With the advantages of ebooks’ accessibility, why would ebooks still be behind print reading in terms of popularity? Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Dillard revealed that the ebooks available in the Dorman library get little to no circulation. This is off putting because ebooks tend to be more expensive and many of them are only available for a limited time.

Required reading for English classes are all available in digital format. This means that students don’t have to buy their own copies or wait for a copy at the library. It also makes for one less book that students have to carry less weight around from class to class.

Ebooks seem to have all of the advantages, yet still print books prevail. The majority of people tend to prefer books they can physically touch and interact with. This goes back to the problem of ebooks feeling impersonal. The librarians at Dorman High School, Mrs. Dillard and Mrs. Nelson, mentioned that the library staff loves when they get new books and open them, this isn’t possible for ebooks, while receiving ebooks is nothing more than getting an email; there is no connection.

Due to the connection people can make with print books, they will likely remain. It is very unlikely that ebooks will ever become more popular or even as popular as print books. I think that many people use their device for way too many other uses to add reading to that. Reading digitally just becomes a nuisance when your device has so many other things going on.

Real books just have a more personal feeling. It becomes just you and the book you can’t wait to dive into. There’s just something about the smell of fresh pages and the feeling of the pages between your fingers. This feeling renders digital reading unable to compete; digital reading will only ever be an alternative but never a replacement. As their market growth begins to stagger, we can see that not even convenience can beat a connection.



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