Friday, April 06, 2012

I'm Finished Now, You Can Turn the Pixel

There are a lot of competing camps out there ... groups of people who are utterly convinced that their particular product, point of view, or device is the best: Christians and Muslims; Chevy and Ford; PC and Mac; Democrat and Republican; Dancing with the Stars and Survivor; and so on. Each side of each divide has its passionate defenders.

And so it is with traditional ink-on-paper books and electronic reading devices.

I've written often about this particular topic, and have no particular desire to throw rocks again at the print-vs-digital hornets nest, but nevertheless I thought I'd call your attention to this very interesting article by Amy Gahran: E-Books Spur Reading Among Americans, Survey Shows.

Yes, Dear (electronic) Readers, the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project appear to show that the advent of e-readers has led to more reading on the part of the average contemporary American. Ms Gahran's article summarizes the results this way:

"E-book users tend to read more often than people who read only print material, Pew found. In particular, they read more books. A typical e-book user read 24 books in the past year, compared with the 15 books reported by typical non-e-book users. Also, a third of people who read e-content say they now spend more time reading than they did before e-books. This is especially true for people who own tablets and e-book readers."

Unless you are a publisher or seller of traditional hard-copy books, this is good news. Other surveys over the past ten years or so have documented a decline in reading on the part of Americans, particularly of books loosely described as "classics;" thus, any upturn in the amount of reading is a good thing.

There are still drawbacks to e-readers, though. It's difficult - and often impossible - to lend an e-book to a friend without handing over your entire reading device, and if the battery runs out just before the hero of your thriller announces who the killer is, you're digitally screwed. But e-books, in general, tend to be a bit less expensive, once the cost of the reader has been recovered, and a digital reader allows you to carry a very large library with you on the bus or the airplane without the weight and bulk of "real" books.

So, which is better: the e-reader or the traditional book? You know my preference, and I know that many of you agree with me that nothing can replace the experience of curling up with a real book on a cold and rainy evening.

As long as you read, I guess the format of your book doesn't matter. But like so many other things, I suppose there are times and places for each. After all, I don't think any judge will ever throw the e-reader at a criminal, and I don't think describing someone as e-readerish calls up quite the same image as calling her bookish. The arresting officer will never e-reader the perp he's just collared, and a travel agent won't e-reader a flight for you. But that's neither here nor there.

Just read. The rest will take care of itself.

Have a good day. Be here tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.

More thoughts then.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

I guess that judges throwing the e-reader at criminals is better than nothing. For reading a straight linear presentation, like a novel, e-books are excellent. They work less well with reference books or art books.

"E-reader him, Dan-oh."

Daniel Buchholz said...

A book is still a book on an e-reader.... (or even an audio-book)

I am a deep believer that content trumps the delivery mechanism.

Duckbutt said...

My wife and I use both formats, depending on availability.

It's very likely that many older books will not ever come in e-book form. On the other hand, it's a great way to find some inexpensively that are in the public domain.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

People who have e-readers tend to be more commited readers, both from the cost and the learning the technology dimensions.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Most people with ereaders tend to be readers to start with, or they wouldn't have them!

I have to disagree...I think popular ebooks are actually just as expensive as regular books. You get the discount when the book is still in hardcover, but stuff that's out on paperback? Well, there's not much difference in the price at all.