Ever since the very first Kindle slipped from Amazon’s amorphous think tank and into our homes and our lives, publishing industry experts the world over have been sounding the dirge of the printed book. For over a decade, these voices have rung loud and true over a variety of media outlets, and while not all were convinced that the bound book would go the way of the dinosaurs, this debate had nonetheless forced a divide in the publishing world, with clear-cut Pro-Print and Pro-Digital sides locked in eternal battle, united only by a common enmity.
That may sound a little melodramatic, but I must confess to being a tad fed up with this same old tired song. While I admit a learned bias in favor of “old school books,” when ensnared in a good read, I couldn’t care less if I was holding an electronic device, a musty hardback, or a clay tablet in cuneiform. But I understand the many vocal opinions on this matter, which is probably what hooked me when Alexandra Alter of The New York Times recently published an article discussing the apparent decline of eBook sales and the tentative reemergence of printed materials. After giving some background of the anticipated “digital apocalypse” that never came, Alter casts cold water on the once widely held view that bound book sales were in permanent nosedive. The article is a good read, with loads of enlightening statistics and well worth a look, but I’m still bothered that it carries the same Manichean, all-or-nothing attitude forever coloring the eBook/printed book conflict.
Here at DCPL, we offer a collection of eBooks and audiobooks through OverDrive and EBSCOhost, in addition to the many printed books we offer our patrons. Reading eBooks or printed books shouldn’t be an either-or proposition–there’s room for both, as long as they keep people reading. A love of lifelong learning can be nurtured in any format, whether digital, bound, or audio.
I would love to hear other thoughts on the eBook vs. regular book debate, and whether you have a personal preference for one or the other.