by Catarina Rivera
As I ride the subway downtown, I see more e-readers than ever before. The Kindles, Nooks, and iPads seem to be taking over. Yet, I still see a lot of riders pull out print books. I am curious about the future of reading. Will print die and electronic versions take over? What’s the carbon footprint of e-readers vs. printed books? Will we lose the satisfaction of holding a book in our hands?
Let’s look at some trends. A Mashable poll asked readers what they preferred: e-books or print books. Print books garnered 41.9% of the votes, while e-books received 23.24% of the votes. Another 34.86% of voters felt both had their advantages and chose a tie. Mashable readers are known to be tech-savvy, so it’s interesting that the majority preferred print books. Another interesting statistic to note is that only 15% of e-reader owners say that they stop buying print books. This means that many consumers are mixing media and engaging in both print and e-book forms. Indeed, the publishing industry still receives a much larger percentage of its revenue from hardcover book sales compared to e-book sales. Digital downloads only represent 3-5 percent of total sales for publishers.
Libraries are getting into the e-book market as well, offering downloads of e-books using a library card. It’s exciting to see them keep up with advances in technology and serve their patrons in new ways. It would be a shame for libraries to lose more funding than they already have in these difficult times, and finding new ways to meet their users’ needs is important and strategic. Libraries are also still the most environmentally friendly way to read, since the carbon footprint is much smaller than printing books or making an e-reader. Newsweek reports that the carbon emissions needed to make one e-reader is the same as the carbon emissions needed to print 40-50 hardcover books.
There are some advantages to using an e-reader. They are searchable and automatically save your spot. Many classic titles are available to download for free. They provide their own lighting and allow you to carry multiple books without weighing you down. However, there are also advantages to reading print books. You don’t have to worry about battery or power issues and if you lose or damage the book, it’s only a small financial hit whereas damaging an e-reader is expensive. Print books are easy to share with others and provide visual experiences by showcasing quality art and photographs that e-books cannot. Print books also are easier on the eyes.
Which will win? Only time will tell if e-books grow to dominate the marketplace. Print books and e-books are currently co-existing, and there is a lot of consumer choice. My choice and personal preference is to enjoy books in print. Reading a book is an experience and is tied to memories and places in time. When I look at my bookshelf, I feel like I’m looking back on my life.
To learn more about Catarina, visit her website.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.