Digital vs. Printed Books

By: Chaylin Howard, Writer

Chaylin Howard, Writer

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With downloadable music already set to completely replace CDs, the next round of the format battle begins. Who will come out on top: ebooks or printed books?

Now, in 2017, technology is common throughout the world. Most teens today use their cellular devices for messaging friends, maybe homework and social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. If you were to take a survey to keep printed books or replace them all with e-books, many would disagree on the idea. A 2014 study published in Library and Information Science shows that while young people are interested in e-readers, two-thirds of them don’t want to give up printed books.

Though the world of print is abating before a tide of digital books, blogs and other web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. For example, my sister attends Lindsey Wilson College and has to buy all her textbooks.

Avid fans of printed books say that there is nothing like the smell of the paper and the rustling noises as you turn the pages. There’s something intimately rustic about the entire experience, they claim, and it’s one that cannot be derived from the cold, electronic version.

On the other hand, those who prefer the ebook often say that the device takes a lot of weight from their shoulders-literally. Packing for trips is bad enough as it is, but it becomes doubly so when confronted with the task of choosing which book to bring. With the ebook, however, a reader can take hundreds of books with them on the journey, and only take up a few square inches in their carry-on bag.

Apart from the physical considerations, studies have shown that when it comes to reading comprehension, printed books are still a better choice. While ebooks also deliver the story, and encourage children to participate with interactive add-ons, there is no conversation and nothing to encourage the child to verbalize or explore using language. In fact, the research concluded that sometimes “click-through” added features can detract from the reading experience because of all the interruptions. For other people, especially adults, who are likely able to comprehend the overall story or meaning in the text, these interactive features such as linking, bookmarking, highlighting, and others provide a huge benefit. However, some devices overdo it, and end up creating more distractions than necessary.

There’s also the matter of production cost. Printed books cost more because of the resources needed. Ebook reader manufacturers, though, spend the bulk of their production cost on the device itself, and from then on everything is digital and a fraction of the cost per book. Although printed books have a special place in my heart and I could never part with them, the winner in this round is the person doing the reading, no matter which method they choose. With all of the options available in the market, there simply is no way to not enjoy reading. If anything, what people should be focused on is learning how to read faster. After all, there are so many books to pick up and read out there-both in printed or ebook form-that we should be concentrating on reading as many as we can, in whatever format suits us best.

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Taylor County High School's News and Literary Magazine
Digital vs. Printed Books