Reading, Books, and E-Books

Comparing a Kindle version of the Lonely Planet guide to Germany to the 844-page, 13.6-ounce printed version demonstrates an advantage of e-books.

More and more of what people are reading, we aren’t reading in print (after all, you’re reading this online). But when one has the choice of a book in print versus an e-book (electronic book, such as one reads with a Kindle or other e-reader), print is still preferred by many. It may come as a surprise that this is the case even among the generation that has grown up entirely during the so-called digital age. Recent studies have confirmed that the reading habits of millennials (defined as persons born in the 1980s or 1990s) ensure a robust future for print books. Of particular note is the finding that compared to their elders, a higher percentage of people under 30 believe that there is useful information that is not available on the Internet.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of print versus digital? What informs our choice of one format or the other? Recent studies have examined these questions, looking at everything from environmental impact to reading comprehension to personal preferences related to accessibility, subject matter, convenience, or cost.

Regarding public libraries, millennials of all ages are just as likely to make use of them as are older adults, and are more likely to use library websites. Older teenagers are more likely than others under 30 to read, whether for work or school, and to use libraries for books and research.

Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, says, “We need to encourage reading in multiple forms.” Levine, whose center has done significant research into children and digital reading, argues that regardless of “which platform is better,” the goal should be to promote “a higher volume of reading” overall.

Image credit: © AP Photo/Richard Drew

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