Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Printed Books Are Still Popular

I spotted an interesting article from Shreveport Times columnist Gary Calligas this morning.  In it, Mr. Calligas, who publishes a free monthly magazine for "mature adults" and hosts a Saturday morning radio show aimed at the same audience, talks about his fear that the youngest generations are now doing pretty much all of their reading on one electronic device or another.  According to Calligas, and I agree with him here, such youngsters are completely missing out on the more tactile pleasures associated with reading a book - pleasures that they will never even know they are missing unless someone makes sure that they get a few physical books in their hands before it is too late.

He greatly encourages grandparents (many of whom personally know nothing of the advantages of electronic reading) to buy books for their grandchildren - books they can discuss with them and enjoy together, no matter the age of those grandchildren.  He goes on describes what he saw at a local library sale:
"I was so happy to learn many seniors who were grandparents or great grandparents buying printed books for their grandkids. I know their grandkids are going to be thrilled about receiving them for an upcoming special occasion. One gentleman told me his grandson needs to learn more about American and World History from other sources than what they are teaching in school. So, he added these books will give him the opportunity to talk with his grandson about those certain times in history and to comment on their importance."
In fairness, Mr. Calligas does mention that many young people are driven to reading e-books more as a matter of convenience and lower pricing than for any real pleasures to be derived from electronic reading itself.   He is quick to point out, too, that he has tried reading e-books and neither enjoys reading them or finds the process to be an easy one.
Gary Calligas

All of the author's points are well taken, but I do think that most of us these days, young people included, tend to read both e-books and tree-books.  About one-third of my own reading, for instance, is done via a Kindle or an iPad app allowing me to access my e-books.  On the other hand, my youngest grandson, a seventh-grade student, does his reading exclusively with physical books.  He loves the heft and feel of the books he's reading and especially enjoys collecting them in series.  I enjoy the convenience of having a large number of books on one device without having to worry about finding shelf-space for them all.  (When I want to add a book to my permanent collection, I buy a physical copy even if I have already read it electronically.)  I realize that this is only anecdotal evidence, but I've noticed the same reading habits in my granddaughter, a high school junior who much prefers physical books both when it comes to reading for pleasure and when it comes to reading for study - as I well know since I'm the one financially supporting most of her reading.

Personally, what I'm seeing is that the market share of e-books may have very well peaked for now.  E-books will always be around, and they certainly have their advantages, but at least for now, the very existence of the physical book is not being threatened - despite all the dire predictions otherwise that were so common just three or four years ago.  And that is a wonderful thing.  

These are wonderful times for readers.


  1. Certainly folks love the "real" books they are able to get from our Little Free Library, although I think people love to donate to us because they are saving fewer of their hard copy books now that e-storage is available. I still prefer the hard copy of books but I do own Kindle that I enjoy for convenience.

    1. Glad to hear your Little Free Library is still up and running, Teresa. I know that's been quite a battle for you guys. I'm with you in that I really enjoy my Kindles at times. I just got a review copy of every single thing that Jack London has ever written...over 20 novels, about 150 short stories, and a whole lot of other stuff...all in one Kindle file. That would take a whole lot of shelf space in the real world.

  2. I will never abandon my paperbound library. I only use my e-reader when I travel, and so far my children have not really caught on that they could also read books on a device. We use the public library a lot and my kids both have a substantial collection of their own- all traditional books. They do play games on devices, but so far are sticking to real books! I hope they will always prefer the real thing, and at some point come to see electronic books as a neccessary convenience at times, like I do.

    1. Jeane, the funniest thing to me about e-books is that children, and even teens, seem to prefer real books. I think it's in our genes now. E-books are wonderful for convenience, saving space, and for allowing those with severe reading problems to read again...but for many, many of us there is no way they will ever replace physical books.