I have always found this debate interesting because it seems that one side or the other would automatically win. It seems though this is one case where superior technology is not necessarily winning the battle. This story I ran across recently indicates that not only are eBooks not outselling real books, but that hardcover and softcover real books are outselling eBooks each individually. Together they more than double eBook sales. So the question comes – why is this so?
On could argue that eBooks are a younger generation thing as time passes real books will simply fade out because of the passing of time, but this doesn’t seem right to me as I know many young readers who prefer real books to eBooks. As I look at this I don’t see this as being a generational thing and the story mentioned above seems to indicate that eBooks are simply finding their niche but that all types of books are simply learning to coexist with each other. I hope this is the case because I see each formant as having its advantages and disadvantages.
eBooks are quite portable. I know that when I traveled to Romania I was happy to have my Kindle as to carry all the books I read while flying to travelling by other modes would have been very heavy. They allow for very convent sales too. I can get a book from point of decision to in my Kindle in a matter of seconds. They also are more often than not less expensive and many Kindle books are free or inexpensive. So why then do I still read real books?
Real books are firstly more aesthetically appealing to me. Now I don’t think this is just me as I hear a lot of people say the same young and old. More than that real books still are more practical in some ways. I find it easier to research from real books in that I can keep a bunch of them open on a table far easier than keeping multiple pages open on a browser. I think they are better outdoors to read from and this is despite the fact my Kindle reads very well outside. I Like my Kindle outside, but I still like real books better. There is also the simple fact that keeping your thumb in a spot or flipping back through a books pages while keeping the page you are on marked with your thumb is still easier than most eBook browser doing the same function. I know I have done my own unofficial test studies on this.
The real thing though is that now we have real studies that show real books promote deeper reading which I can see as when we use electronic devices we tend to want speed and not depth and they also promote deeper understanding of what is being read probably for the same reasons. Electronic media is about speed and no matter how you slice it speed is not always great when the goal is true understanding where you have to slow down and engage the material.
My real take? I see both of them as similar tools but designed for different jobs. They both have their advantages in certain situations and I almost feel we should view which one we are going to use based on what we are going to need to do. I love my Kindle for travel and simple easy of purchase but at the same time my deep and meaningful reading experiences are still with real books. I think both are going to be around for a long time to come.