With the increasingly popular e-readers (such as Kindle) on the rise, the question arises- are printed books on their way to becoming obsolete? According to American Booksellers Association’s CEO Oren Teicher, “ABA in no way believes that print books are going away. Nothing can replace the physical book.” 

Reading is one of the most powerful skills an individual can obtain. Does it matter the medium? Let’s examine some of the advantages of both formats.

Some of the benefits of an e-book using a digital reader:

  • Most readers incorporate display lighting allowing you to read day or night, without additional lighting.
  • Readers use less paper and are praised for being more environmentally-friendly.
  • They are easily portable. You can load multiple books onto a reader without the bulk or weight of a traditional printed book.
  • They are easy to read. Many readers offer functions such as the ability to zoom and/or letter resizing.
  • Many readers have the option to make notes, which are easily referenced and can be edited or removed.

Of course, there is the traditional print book. There is something nostalgic about a favorite printed copy of a classic book. Other advantages to the print book:

  • They are easily obtainable at bookstores and libraries.
  • They are affordable- no expensive reader is necessary. They may be no cost at all if borrowing a book from a friend or checking it out at the library.
  • Print books don’t need batteries or a power source.
  • Long text is much easier to read on a print book than an electronic reader.
  • Print books are much more durable- you can take a book into the bathtub or accidentally drop it on the floor- do that with an iPad and it could be catastrophic.
  • You can share it with a friend.

For some more interesting comparisons, click here to see a comparison chart produced by Newsweek

So which should your child use? A child learning to read is essentially one of the most crucial skills obtained in a lifetime.

According to a New York Times article entitled, For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper:  “As the adult book world turns digital at a faster rate than publishers expected, sales of e-books for titles aimed at children under 8 have barely budged. They represent less than 5 percent of total annual sales of children’s books, several publishers estimated, compared with more than 25 percent in some categories of adult books."

This article demonstrates that parents typically prefer print books for their children, as there is an entire sensory experience to be had when reading- simple actions such as turning the page, viewing colorful illustrations, and even experiencing the smell of the pages of the book. There is also a special bond and connection for parent and child when curling up together with a classic children’s print book. It may be a familiar to the parent as he experienced this as a child and wants to pass down this most tender of traditions.

According to this article, there are cognitive and tactile processes accomplished for a child learning to read using a print book and it just can’t be optimally achieved using an electronic reader.

So must it be one or the other? What do you think? Do you use E-books in your home?