Whether a book is better than an eReader, or vice versa, will be discussed until one of them dies out for good. Recently, an article was featured on the Huffington Post about this topic, but with an angle that tickled my fancy.
This article, written by a mobile and web design company, Fueled, talks about how New York subways riders do their reading while traveling on one of the world’s largest transit systems. It notes while many use Kindles or other tablets, traditional books are still the norm:
A typical subway experience can be an adventure: riders sitting in more than one seat, straphangers bobbing to their music, the crazies, the snoozers, the gamers and the readers. Some readers prefer their handheld devices, holding on to a pole with one hand and their tablet with the other. But many still crack open their books to escape into another world.
I am one of these commuters. I take the train to and from work five times a week, and on most weekends, I am using the train to get around the city. I’m part of both groups. I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, which I used to read Francis J. Franklin’s Suzie and the Monsters. I am now using it to read a book on personal finance and investment.
But I still bring a traditional book with me to and from work. I do this mostly because I have plenty of books to read, and they are all print books. I am not sure what I will do once I complete all the books on my shelf, but right now, I am not taking sides on the print versus eReader debate.
However, there has been talk that eReaders such as Kindles or Nooks are declining in sales. While eBooks are still popular, there is a sense that they will not put traditional books into extinction.
The aforementioned article makes these points:
There are a number of things to consider in the battle between paper and pixel: cost, physical limitations, reading comprehension and interactive capabilities to name a few. Paper prevails in every measure.
There is something about a bookmark sticking out of your novel that entreats one to pick it back up and give it more quality time. Yes it’s helpful to roll over a word for a definition; but life is about tradeoffs and for many the tactile pleasures of paper are priceless.
People approach computers and tablets with a state of mind that is less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper. Some studies even suggest that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper because our brain processes printed digital and printed text in different ways.
I agree traditional books are better than eBooks, which sounds totally hypocritical of me since I self-published my book through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords – making my book exclusively for the eBook crowd. But despite this, I do think eBooks have a place in this world. I believe eventually, eReaders and tablets will find ways to make eBooks as personal as print books. I don’t know how exactly, because I am not a tech person, but I don’t think eBooks are a flash in the pan. They wouldn’t have lasted this long or have been this successful if they did not have an appeal.
As long as I am a self-published author, I will release my books as eBooks because it is much easier for me. However, I will use CreateSpace for special editions of my work. I am planning to release print copies of my vampire trilogy, The End of Eternity, once I published the third book, which won’t be for some time. Unless, however, technology changes or the self-publishing craze takes a dramatic turn. And it could, as I had discuss in a previous post where I compared the self-publishing excitement to the California Gold Rush.
These are exciting yet uncertain times for readers, publishers and the book industry. I think the HuffPo article mentioned here is showing New Yorkers, well known for reading during their commutes all over the metropolitan area, are an illustration of the uncertain future of books. The final paragraph sums it all up:
NYC subway riders embrace e-readers for a number of reasons, most notably: portability, accessibility and convenience. Is print dead? Not necessarily. Print doesn’t have to become obsolete for digital to flourish; they’re different and complementing experiences. Our world is increasingly immersed in technology. Let’s hold on to this special treasure for a little while longer. At least until the next stop.