Are you feeling a wee bit guilty about the shiny new e-reader you’re enjoying? If you’re a bibliophile, it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that you’re betraying the cause of the “real book” and local bookstores by consuming books via e-reader. But what is the truth? Are e-readers and e-books going to kill print and drive libraries and bookstores out of business? I don’t think so–at least not yet.
I love print books, and I have the library to prove it–one of the boys started counting one day, and finally quit at around 5000, and he hadn’t even started on the upstairs. (Yes, I am getting ready to thin the herd, but no, it has nothing to do with e-books.) So . . . why would I ever want to read a book on my iPad?
Frankly, I don’t. I like the feel of paper. I like writing (with pencil, of course) in the margins and inside the covers. I want to be able to easily flip back and re-read specific passages even if I haven’t bookmarked or highlighted them. I don’t like reading off a screen, and I don’t believe it’s entirely good for children, either. I like the solidity of a real print book in my hand.
But practicality intervenes. I travel a lot and I read fast. This means that if I take print books, I need to take several. I also need to anticipate exactly what I will want to be reading through the duration of the trip. Since I am normally reading a minimum of 3-4 books at a time, this is cumbersome, to say the least. Baggage and weight restrictions put a severe crimp in what I can pack, and back issues limit what I can carry. And now that I am on the downhill slope to old, airplane and hotel lighting isn’t always adequate for reading.
So now I have a small library on my iPad. I don’t love it, but it meets a need so I like it. Our local library lends e-books as well as print books, and there are always free classics available. The e-reader serves a useful purpose and as long as I can catch wireless or 3G, I’ll never run out of things to read. Will it replace my print library? No.
The infographic below (and a study by BISG, the Book Industry Study Group) suggests that I’m not alone. It seems that people who own e-readers generally read more of both types of books than people who don’t have e-readers. A reader is a reader, so format doesn’t change that. An e-reader can even keep alive the love of reading for young mothers, solopreneurs, and others who barely have time to breathe. So you can be grateful without guilt for your e-reader, (but don’t forget to support your local library and independent bookstores!).
This infographic has been shared courtesy of TeachingDegree.org.