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We are the 85 percent! Those who still read print books over digital


Posted on Jul 20, 2012

Allyson Palmer The Rise of E-Reading is a report on the reading habits of Americans’ since the emergence of e-books.  The Pew Internet Project conducted surveys of 2,986 people over the age of 16.  The surveys asked questions about book reading and e-reader ownership, including why people like to read and whether they prefer print or e-books . The results indicate there is an increasing shift from printed books to e-book reading devices. This report was especially interesting to me, as I am currently waging an internal debate on whether to purchase a Kindle.  When e-book readers first emerged, I was one of those people vehemently opposed to letting go of my print books.  I like displaying my books on the bookshelf when I am finished reading them.  I like folding back the pages to mark my spot.  I like sharing good books with my friends.  I did not like the idea of reading my books on yet another technological device.  As one by one, my friends and family started carrying around their Kindles, Nooks, and IPads, I argued that I would not get sucked into the latest fad by purchasing an e-reading device.  Even when my 70-year-old father purchased a Kindle, and I began to worry that I may be the last one holding out in the e-reader war, I still refused to give in. Then, as I read this report I found myself reluctantly admitting that maybe there is something appealing about e-readers.   The survey sought to uncover which purposes of reading are better with e-books versus printed books.  Overwhelmingly, people reported printed books are better for reading with a child or sharing with other people, but e-books are better for travel and quick access.  I started to wonder which held more value.  Although, I like sharing my printed books and saving them on my bookshelf, my carry on luggage would be easier to fit in the overhead bin with one e-reader as opposed to several books.  And, there are times I want to start a book right away, without having to make a trip to the bookstore or wait for Amazon to deliver.  I was beginning to realize why “the number of adults reading e-books on any given day has jumped dramatically” from 4% in June 2010 reading e-books to 15% in December 2011. The survey also found e-book readers read more books than non e-book consumers. “91% of device owners had read a book in the year prior to the survey, compared with 78% of all Americans 16 and older.” I found these results surprising, considering my love of reading and my reluctance to switch to e-readers.  However, it is only logical that consumers who buy e-book reading devices for instant accessibility to books would find themselves reading more. The truth is, as much as I like the idea of my print books, I understand why the prevalence of e-readers is growing so rapidly and why 36% of the sample surveyed preferred e-books compared to 24% who preferred printed books.  The portability and instant book accessibility that comes with e-books does make the switch to an e-reading device tempting.  Perhaps the next time I go to order a print book from Amazon, I may find myself ordering a Kindle instead.  Rainie, L., Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., Madden, M., & Brenner, J. (2012). The rise of e-reading. Washington D.C.: Pew Research Center.

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