By Annie Gallay, Intern

We all know that the “the pen is mightier than the sword.” But when it comes to reading, is the page mightier than the screen?

For some, eBooks have revolutionized reading, making it much more convenient to carry and store full libraries. For others, eBooks have tarnished reading, removing the tactile turn of the page in already over-digitized world. No matter which camp you fall in, you can’t deny that eBook reading is on the rise in the U.S. Last year, 28% of adults in America had read an eBook compared to only 23% in 2013.[1]

Why the increase? For starters, more people own eReaders than ever before. From Kindles or Nooks to tablets or even smart phones, the technological possibilities seem endless. As of 2014, eBooks made up 27% of the adult trade book sales.[2] The real question is this: if the number of eBooks read is increasing, is the number of printed books read decreasing?

A recent poll by Pew reveals that the answer is a resounding “no.” In 2014, while 28% of American adults read an eBook, a whopping 69% read a printed book. That’s actually up from 2012, when only 65% of that group read a print book.[3] It appears that print books aren’t going anywhere—and that’s how this particular reader would prefer it.

Based on my demographic, I should be touting technology over tradition. Women, people under the age of forty and people who possess a college degree are the primary readers of eBooks.[4] I even own a kindle—a present from my book-loving mother—but I never use it.

To me, there’s nothing quite like picking out a book, taking it home, cracking open its spine and inhaling that new book smell. And that’s just the beginning! There’s something magical about the weight of a bound book, the crispness of a page between your thumb and index finger as you turn it. It’s irreplaceable, especially by a piece of plastic.

That’s not to say there aren’t definite pros to eBooks and their accompanying eReaders. For starters, they’re more environmentally friendly than traditional books. And if you think they’re good for trees, just see what they’ll do for your wallet. On average, eBooks are cheaper than their printed counterparts. Although some may argue that the cost of the eReader closes that gap, today Kindles only set you back $139.[5]

For those of you who tend not to buy books and prefer to stick to the library, an eBook may be your best option. Many libraries now carry a range of eBooks. Instead of waiting for a copy of a print book to return, you can easily download the electronic version. Talk about immediate gratification. E-readers provide other instantaneous results as well. Many models contain built-in dictionaries that allow you to look up a word as you’re reading. In addition, you can highlight and annotate an eBook with ease—and you can remove these marks whenever you feel like it. Perhaps the most obvious plus of eBooks is how portable they are and how little space they take up. They’re ideal for travelling and reading multiple books at once.

Still, my stance on eBooks is this: read them and weep. Many great books are considered timeless. When you read a print version of a classic, you can come back to it time and time again to revel in its richness. It becomes a part of you and a physical part of your library. Ebooks, however, have expiration dates. While their lifespan varies depending on the publisher, they are all temporary—just like their battery life. Can you imagine getting so lost in a book that you forget about plugging your eReader into a power source? You’re just about to get to the denouement when, suddenly, your screen turns black! On the subject of screens, it’s a good thing that not all eReaders are backlit. Even though backlit screens enable you to read at all hours of the day, they can interrupt sleep cycles the same way smartphone and computer screens can.

At the end of the day, I don’t care whether you read eBooks or print books. What I really care about is that you read. According to Pew research, 23% of American adults didn’t read a single book last year.[6] In that case, I’m not reading the writing in an eBook or a print book but rather the writing on the wall. Something has to change.

Get reading! Get your friends reading! Share your favorite books.

And, not for nothing, it’s much easier to share a print book than an eBook. Just saying.

[1] http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media//Files/Reports/2014/PIP_E-reading_011614.pdf

[2] http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/ebook-growth-slows-to-single-digits-in-u-s-in-2013/

[3] http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/16/e-reading-rises-as-device-ownership-jumps/

[4] http://www.slideshare.net/PenguinRandomHouse/who-reads-e-books

[5] http://portables.about.com/od/ebookreasers/a/E-book_reader_value.htm

[6] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222/

Bright Sky Press
Where Texas meets books e-Books