Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Value of a Good Read: Ebooks vs Print

The debate over whether it is better to read one's books on screen or in print is heating up. I'm unapologetically a book person. Our Superintendent and Director of Instruction are avid e readers. The debate over which format is better is spirited and ongoing.

I've always been a bookworm. As soon as I could read through to the present day, I've been a voracious reader. Trips to the library or book store were, and remain, a great adventure. I just like the look and feel of a good book.  I have nothing against the e readers. In fact they have a lot going for them. In terms of space, weight, cost and content an e reader's benefits are easy to see. In education the e-reader and digitalized text are heralded as the emerging solution to engaging the future. Not convinced? Just check out Apple's Apple in Education page where the benefits of e-books via the I-pad is on full display.   

Printed books have their supporters too. People are downright passionate about the printed word! Supporters like The billablog or teaspoonoflife.com provide comprehensive lists detailing the advantages of real books over their electronic rivals. Those who care about defending the real over the virtual elicit equally emotional counter responses from folks who see the e book as the inevitable wave of the future.

Perhaps the best representation of the debate I have seen so far is on a poster drawn from Newsweek put out by The Daily Beast. Under the title "Books vs E-books - Does One Have to Win?" the poster illustrates a side by side view of many of the debate's salient points.  As for me, I'm sticking with my books until someone comes up with an e-reader that passes my definitive readability test. Take the average book and your typical e- reader and drop them on a concrete floor from a height of about a meter - then decide which one reads better!

4 comments:

  1. There are a lot of issues with e-books that still need to be ironed out. Number one is copyright and licensing. This is a large problem for libraries, because many e book companies will not allow their "ebooks" to be borrowed among users, or they'll only give out a certain amount of views per book, which are usually quite low. I would think that this would be a problem for schools too? Some American vendors also won't sell licenses to certain books to Canadian users... also a big concern!

    Another problem with ebooks are the price- they tend to be a similar cost to physical books. It takes a lot less time to process an electronic book to a physical book, so there are some debates about pricing e-books so high.

    However, I'm a librarian/archivist in training, so I'm naturally somewhat biased ;)

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    1. Great response! Always appreciate hearing from the library's point of view. Vendor licensing also an important issue!

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  2. I only read eBooks, because I travel a lot and I can't carry printed books with me. However, it has an advantage that we can have hundreds of great titles in just one place - an online library. Personally, I got my eBooks from All you can books, a site told by a good friend.

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    1. I've done both when traveling. I agree the e-reader lets a person take more. Bringing a single book I actually read more!

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