Study Shows Preference for Physical Books Versus eBooks

For those of you out there convinced the typewritten page is all through, news from the LA Times proves the intrinsic value of the printed word. This Christmas, maybe you should head on over to the bookstore or Amazon, not to get a digital book, but a real live bound copy for your kids. Other than simplifying life a tad, it appears the feel and smell of books still rules.

Book by the fire

While it seems everyone, especially your teenager, is absorbed and enthralled with their smart devices, the LA Times story sourcing British marketing group Voxburner sheds new light on an old topic, reading. According to the study, it looks as if young people actually prefer printed books over their digital counterparts. That’s right, while music and entertainment, even texting take up a large part of the lives of young people, when it comes to absorbing books they prefer olden day ways.

For me, e-books are the best way to consume stories outside movies, but then I am an old guy with vision trouble too. For most people though, it appears bound books hold another charm we seldom hear about, the symbolic value on top of the intrinsic value of a book in and of itself.

In Voxburner’s survey some 62% of those questioned between the ages of 16 and 24 said they preferred reading physical books versus digital ones. Interestingly, one of the biggest complaints about eBooks was that they are relatively more expensive when compared to their physical counterparts. Aside the love of imagery that leads smart device users to consume media more fervently, where text is the prime motivator it seems old fashioned books are the clear winners.

From a personal perspective, I’ve heard this sentiment from just about everybody I’ve talked to too. One big plus not discussed in depth via the Voxburnder study is the accessibility and simplification of life eBooks afford. This Yeditepe University, Turkey study (PDF) of faculty reading habits shows some interesting parallels for seemingly older readers. For one thing, Arts & Sciences faculty show to be somewhat less adaptive to eBook format, and most faculty show accessibility and ease of use as primary motivators.

Clearly a part of this “adoration” for bound books is nostalgic. For people like me, those who enjoy doing a lot of research for instance, the technical capability of tablet/books to help expand quickly an argument or case, this is what makes eBooks a lot more attractive. Voxburner identifies this too. Once authors fully take advantage of the capability to link resources, and to find new ways of deepening this “connective” relationship with their works, then eBooks will surely become more read.

Until such time though, it is interesting to note how the feel and smell of bound knowledge has us clinging to it, clinging to the physical world. I admit, reading my iPad next to the fire is not nearly as cozy a thought as a leather bound volume keeping me company. But then my wife is always next to me too.

Let’s hear your thoughts on the subject…

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