Could you imagine how different our world would be without the use of printed books? Long before, paper books have become the sole means of historical documentation and the recording of stories, as to be passed down through the generations. Yet with the new technology known as the e-books, the needs of paper books have drastically decreased. When it comes to storage, convenience, and quality, e-books will be giving paper books a run for their money. The advancing e-tide seemed inevitable. Books are undoubtedly not obsolete in this digital age as they are more meaningful and attrahent than e-books.
In this digital society, e-books are gradually displacing print formats as the preferred method for people to read books. E-books broke ground sales for the first time in 2011 and this trend has continued since then. However, data from the Association of American Publishers indicates that the obituary of print books was published way too early. In 2016, sales of printed books in the U.S. increased by 3.3 %, while the e-book sales declined even further than the 14 % drop noted in 2015. According to Pew Research, even in the e-book-devoted U.S., 65 % of readers perused a paper book the year before, while only 28 % read the e-books. Print’s popularity has remained steady since 2014. It is attributed to the older consumers who refuse to lose the printed format and some younger consumers who seek the tactile pleasures of owning the traditional books.
Book owns physical beauty. Jack Cheng, who is a web entrepreneur, designer, and novelist, said that printed books can offer a more powerful experience to the reader. “I feel like with e-books, you often just get a meal on the same white plate as all the other meals,” he said. “But a nice hardcover is like having a place setting, having dinnerware selected to suit the food. The story is still the main thing you’re there for, but the choices around it – the paper stock, the way the book is typeset, the selection of fonts – they add their own subtle flavors to the experience of that story.” While the e-books are in a separate world, they all have covers certainly, but they’re rarely get the attention by the readers, as the book automatically saves its place and opens to the one that you left with. Even the font size and the typeface will change according to your preferences. These things seem to make reading more convenient, but do they make it memorable as the printed books do?
There are science-based research show the opposite impact about reading on different materials. According to Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in Massachusetts, the research findings, electronic reading can negatively impact the way the brain responds to the text, including reading comprehension, focus and the ability to maintain attention to details like plot and sequence of events. While the benefit for printed books is that they are actually better for people to do the research and taking notes. Printed books help to gain long-term memory recall. The scientists who experimented with students reading digital versus printed text found that those who did digital reading had to reread the material couples of times before understanding the material. With just clicking the button, the e-readers can get easily distracted. The constant scrolling on the screen and the inability to physically highlight the text does nothing to benefit the long-term memory. Flipping through pages, having several books open when doing research is more productive. With e-books, one must flip page by page to find information of only one book on screen at a time. Even though e-books are said to be more portable then books, there is no big difference if only one book is being brought. It is true that the e-books may be lighter but printed books are not necessarily super heavy.
We live in a time of technological advancement and our life pace is getting faster than ever. The entertainment level that technology provides for our society is yet to reach its full potential. That does not leave much space for the printed, traditional books. However, I think it is only a matter of time for people to rekindle the interest by the beauty of the printed book, its meaning behind and the scientific evidence.