Gone are the days of the printed book. Like vinyl records books will continue to be produced on a small scale for those eccentric, nostalgic readers who plan their vacations around visits to the few remaining Indie Bookstores. True or not so true?
According to a Pew Survey, “E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps,” more people are reading on e-readers BUT more people are reading old-fashioned books too. The summary of the survey goes on to say “Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits. Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4% of readers are “e-book only.” In any case, the press reports from bookstores Down Under aren’t as optimistic as can be seen in this recent article, “Popularity of ebooks Spells the Demise of Printed Versions.”
I have heard rumors that ebook sales are down but haven’t found anything to substantiate that claim.
We don’t sell e-books at the moment but the topic of e-readers comes up a lot in our store, especially during book club meetings. At our last meeting the group concluded that e-readers are great for text books and beach reads but for a dense novel – trying reading Wolf Hall on an e-reader – being able to jump back-and-forth, fold pages down, underline in pencil is all part of the experience of reading. And who hasn’t walked into someone’s home and perused their bookshelves in search of a more intimate look into that person’s head. Better yet, how is someone supposed to subtly present their alter ego to friends and suitors? How do you do that surreptitiously on an ipad?
I’m often asked what I think about e-books, specifically, “Do you think they will go away?” I suppose that is a reasonable question to be asked of someone who jumped into the bookselling business in 2012.
My response: “If I was still traveling as much as I did in my previous career, I would have an e-reader to take with me.”
At home I still would want to turn the pages of a magazine because sometimes you stumble onto articles you won’t seek out and take a real book with me for my bedtime reading because I spend all day looking at my computer (some of that time reading for pleasure) and on my smartphone. I want a break. The same Pew study suggests I am not alone here and that many readers use different platforms.
I also theorize that people learn differently when they interact with the pages of a book or a magazine. I am not alone here either. More and more data suggests short and long-term comprehension and retention is negatively impacted when we read on a screen.
A fascinating Scientific American article titled, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screen presents more research in support of my theory.
Then again, I know from my own professional experience that data doesn’t always = true. We can interpret and manipulate data to support what we want something to be. Still as a mother of a young child who loves to read the old-fashioned way and as a bookseller, I have embraced this belief. In fact, this may become my new response the next time someone asks me about e-reading – an interesting guerilla marketing tactic, wouldn’t you agree?