Are Print Books Becoming Obsolete?


Are print books becoming obsolete? Some say that electronic devices are challenging the popularity of books, newspapers, and magazines. Many readers prefer the adjustable screens of cell phones, tablets, computers, or eReaders to the pages of a printed book.

eReaders are hand-held devices that allow reader to consume newspapers, magazines, eBooks, and other materials. eBooks are electronic books that can be found in a library or downloaded from almost any online store. eReaders, as new as they are, appear to be on the verge of edging out printed books as the most popular way to read.

Some common eReaders include Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Nobles' Nook, and Pocketbooks. eReaders offer many more ease-to-use options compared to the print opponent. eReaders can sport black and white screens that are reversible and non-reflective. These screens allow for easier outside reading. Their smaller size also increases portability.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of eReaders over print books is their storage capacity. Most eReaders allow storage of up to 10 to 20 books in a library with the option of “returning” them if space is running low. This feature can be useful for moving onto the next book in a series and exploring books of all genres. Print books require bright enough surroundings to see the text, whereas the brightness of an eReader screen can be adjusted, allowing for a range of lighting conditions.

eReaders have a few disadvantages as well. They can be expensive, costing up to $100. Battery life varies depending on use. Reading in the dark with eReaders makes the brain “wake up” when it should be falling asleep because the blue light emitted makes it harder to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Finally, Naomi S. Baron author of “Words on Screen” says, “the earth metals we’re using up to build eReaders and tablets are not just rare but highly toxic.”

Print books, on the other hand, have become so integrated into our society that it is hard to imagine life without them. Since the mention of the printing press in 1440 printed books have been widely available.

Research suggests printed books may hold our attention span longer and better than electronic versions, and that information learned from printed material may also imprint itself better in the brain. Researchers in Norway conducted a study about the difference between those who read on electronic devices and those who read print books. The study gave half of its participants copies of the same classic paperback format and half of its participants an electronic version on Amazon’s Kindle. The subjects were then tested on different aspects of the story and on reading comprehension. Those who read on a Kindle scored lower than those who read the printed version. This analysis could explain why the use of books will probably be around for a long time.

One negative aspect of print books is their size. Big or multiple books can be hard to carry. Yet some readers prefer to turn physical pages.

The debate of eReaders versus books is far from settled. Arguments likely will continue throughout this century about the advantages of reading in print, with the crisp pages and the unique aroma of a book, versus the popularity and flexibility of everything electronic. Monitor your own habits, and stay tuned.

[Sources: Authority Nutrition; The Washington Post; PRI; Forbes; Wisconsin State Journal]

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