Through a poll on my site, I recently asked you how you prefer to read books? Here are the results.
As you can see, there were no votes for audiobooks, which kind of surprised me. But I wasn’t entirely surprised that most of you chose books over eBooks. I didn’t include a “both” option on purpose. I know a lot of you are like me and read both traditional books and eBooks, but I wanted to know what you truly prefer. If I had voted, I would have said books. While I love my Nook, there’s nothing like holding a real book in my hands.
My love of books
My love of books goes way back. I remember reading every Agatha Christie book in the Kendall Young Library. Which by the way, is THE best library in the world. It’s what you imagine when you think of a library. Beautiful architecture and stacks and stacks of books. It even smells like a library should. And it had probably the best children’s book section ever, that completely filled the basement level. I have to admit, this is from a kid’s perspective and my memories could be a little fuzzy. Is it still like I remember? All that matters, however, is that I loved going to the library.
I also devoured books in our junior high library. The books were in the back of our study hall and I spent most of my study time reading. Are any of you familiar with Phyllis A. Whitney? She was my favorite author in junior high. I’m pretty sure I read all her books that were in that library. I didn’t realize she wrote mysteries for both juveniles and adults until I just checked her out for the link. There are probably more of her books I should check into now.
Also in junior high, we had the ability (was it only over the summer?) to order paperback books. I ordered books like crazy. Just like now, I loved reading over the summer. I remember books like “Seventeenth Summer” and “The Outsiders“.
If you can’t tell, my favorites have always been mysteries. Nowadays, I like suspense and legal thrillers. But I’m also drawn from time to time to what might be considered “chick lit”. I will occasionally read a biography, but that’s not really my thing. I’m about 99% a fiction reader.
Comparing books to eBooks
While I conducted my own poll, I am also interested in the broader perspective. I found a few articles and thought I’d share the key points with you. This article is a good summary of the pros of each, and I’ve included my own thoughts on each bullet below.
The following are some of the advantages of eBooks over physical titles:
- Travel. This is a big advantage for me. I used to carry an extra suitcase on vacation just for books!! (That was obviously before airlines started charging for everything.) Vacation has always been a big reading time for me, especially when I was working. And some of you may even carry your eBooks with you every day, so if you’re stuck somewhere (or you take the bus to work) you have something to read.
- Storage. I used to have bookcases full of books. (There is still some type of book in every room in our house.) I saved every book I had. At some point, this became unmanageable and I had to get rid of the books I’d read. I used to sell them pretty cheaply at garage sales. The goal was not to make money, but find new homes for all my books.
- Price. I’m not finding this quite as true as it used to be. Current eBooks can be almost as pricey as buying the book. And of course, you need a reader. But today, you can download the Kindle or Nook apps on your iPad or other tablets, so you no longer need multiple devices. You can also get free books or very cheap books this way. And even libraries are providing eBooks now.
- Speed. Downloading a book takes seconds and you don’t have to leave home to get it. I’ve even downloaded books while on vacation, which is especially handy.
- Font adjustments. I haven’t done this (yet) but you can adjust the size of the letters to accommodate your reading preference. This has to be wonderful for anyone needing larger print.
- Night reading. I can actually read in the dark if I want to, but I don’t usually do this. I don’t need to turn the light on as soon when I’m reading through my Nook as opposed to a real book, however. And the brightness can be adjusted, so when I’m outside I can brighten it up and then tone it down when it’s darker.
Advantages of physical books over electronic titles:
- Resale value. This isn’t a huge deal for me. As I said above, I have sold a lot of books over the years and not to make money. Even selling at Half Price Books does not make me rich. And I’m not a collector of rare books, so this hardly matters.
- Reading ease. It sounds like this is due to what backlighting on eReaders can do to your eyes. I know we’re told we shouldn’t be looking at a screen before bedtime, but I haven’t found that to be a problem when I’m reading. The ease I have is in holding my Nook. If you read any Stephen King books, you know what I mean. His books are usually quite large and reading in bed isn’t always easy. My Nook is easy to hold but it can still fall out of my hands if I doze off. 🙂
- No devices needed. This is definitely handy if you forgot your iPad or Kindle or Nook and need something to read. Not typically a big problem for me, but I could see this being a plus if you’re stuck in an airport or somewhere you can grab a book.
- No batteries. I have definitely had to quit reading at times because my battery is low. There’s nothing more frustrating than being at a good point in the book and have that flash on the screen.
- No warranties needed. Hmm. This hasn’t been a problem for me. My Nook hasn’t broken. I’ve had it for 5 years, I think, and I’ve never had to do anything with it.
- Tradition. This is probably big for me. There’s something about the smell and feel of a book. I love books so much that I can’t even turn down the corner of a page to save my place!! And I feel terrible if I happen to spill something or get a mark on a page. (That’s even true for cookbooks!!)
Interesting facts about books and eBooks/eReaders (mostly from several years ago)
- Once they own an eReader, only 15% of the people using them say they never buy a print book again. (Source.)
- Walking to the library is still the most eco-friendly way to read. (Source.)
- eBooks grew from 2% to 23% of book sales between 2009 and 2012. (Source.)
- Amazon sales account for 30% of all dollars spent on books (Source.)
- A CNN report finds that sales of e-readers declined by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016, according to consumer research group Euromonitor International. The recent NPD BookScan data reported by Publishers Weekly shows that hardcover print unit sales held steady over the past 5 years while ebooks declined, and hardcover books outsold ebooks in 2016 for the first time since 2011.
- “E-readers, which was once a promising category, saw its sales peak in 2011. Its success was short-lived, as it spiraled downwards within a year with the entry of tablets,” Euromonitor said in a research note.
I think both books and eBooks are here to stay. But I also think most people will continue using a combination of both, depending on the circumstances. There are just too many conveniences with eReaders; I can’t see them going away.
When we pick a new book for my book club, I always check my Nook first to see what the price is. (This is mostly because I get B&N gift cards for Christmas that I load into my account. 🙂 ) And sometimes, even with the gift card/free to me option, I will order the book through Amazon if it’s cheaper. I’ve found that even when there’s shipping, a paperback can sometimes be cheaper than the eBook.
Happy reading everyone, regardless of how you read!! Just keep reading!!