Arguments are going on all the time about the print medium disappearing in favour of the e-book. When it come to fiction we have not found that this is happening at our school this year. I am always especially irritated but the statements that say something like “libraries no longer need books”. (For example the NY Times article) in 2010. To me this shows little understanding or sloppiness when what they mean is that the printed medium is on the way out. Many of these articles have no evidence to back up their claims except their own personal reading situation. I argue that at present the data shows something quite different.
We announced that we had fiction/stories in e-book format available for all students this year from our library.They were available via kindles but we when we talked to students, about what was available to read, we always stressed the stories. For example: if a student wanted the “Hunger Games” we had three print copies and some e-copies – the boys just took whatever was available. We have put many of the less read “classics” on kindles so they are available, with the quality of the paper and binding not an issue because the book does not deteriorate. If any other classic is requested can be obtained on-line and ready to read within minutes and at a very small cost. They boys have been very appreciative of this and we can give them what they want to read when they want it.
We found that some of our boys loved reading from the kindle format, some much preferred the traditional book and others were happy to have access to the story they wanted and the format was immaterial to them. The staff, when introduced to the kindles, often ended up buying their own. They loved the portability of a device that carried many books especially when they were on holiday. Again many went between the two formats. Some just read via their e-book readers but is seems that mostly they were people who had gone ways from reading but the e-book reader brought them back to reading by its portability and ease of acquiring books.
An analysis (written April 2012 from a Pew study of 2011) found that even as sales of e-readers are growing rapidly, many still visit libraries more frequently than some would have you believe, and print books have remained popular. It did show that readers of e-book read more books annually, whatever the format. I will be interested in new data next year from Pew to see if any of these trends have changed in 12 months. On what we have seen this year in our school library, for the forseeable future, books and e-readers will continue to coexist in our library when it comes to reading stories.
The following infographic takes a look at e-readers and books, as well as why they can both remain useful for many years to come.