I have long been a basher of electronic book readers, such as the Kindle and Nook. I believe in traditional books, and in outlets that sell and distribute books in print. Books are symbolic, and when anyone stores them on a reader, this facet disappears. I have developed this argument in a previous blog post, and you can access it by clicking here.
To that end, I was pleased to read this today (August 25, 2011) from the Harvard Business Review Online Daily Stat:
E-readers are not about to kill print books in the college environment: Very few students with e-readers use them for all of their reading, and most students with e-readers use them for one-third of their reading or less, according to a survey of 1,705 students by Nancy M. Foasberg of Queens College in New York City. Only 15.7% of respondents who said they read e-books used dedicated e-readers; the rest used computers or cell phones. 74% of respondents didn’t read e-books at all.
However, the title of the piece is misleading. It is called: “E-Readers Gain Ground Slowly in College.” I think that is true only if we start from zero. I am unimpressed by a figure of 15.7% .
There are some professors at colleges and universities who use our 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com site as a resource for their classes. To be clear, every entry we have available on that site was from a traditional, in-print book. Every book that we present at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas comes from a traditional, in-print book that we read and give away in a drawing. And, we will continue to do so. These are both services owned and operated by Creative Communication Network.
And, think about it. Do you really want an instructor in the classroom to say “please scroll to ____” instead of “please turn to page _____?”
What do you think about this?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
I found Danny Heitman’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal about e-reading very interesting. His title was “What an E-Reader Can’t Download,” published on July 23-24 (p. A-11).
In the article, he talks about the memories that are anchored as he scans the spines of the books on his living room shelf. For instance, as he sees the spine of Fishing in the Tiber by Lance Morrow, he thinks of a visit he made to Cleveland in 1991, the dinners he had there, the bookstores he visited there, and so forth. “To see the book these many years later is to think of red wine and pasta, wind and winter, good friends and good writing.”
While he acknowledges that electronic books are associated with great convenience, he also notes that the “books on my shelf help me remember that reading isn’t merely an inhalation of data. My library, and the years and places it evokes, speak of something deeper: the interplay of literature and the landscape of a life, the vivid record of a slow and winding search for wisdom, truth, the spark of pleasure or insight.”
Of course, he is right. Books are symbolic. They stand for things. They evoke passion, interest, and curiousity. When you carry them around or when you have them on your shelf, people will ask “what is that about?” or “how did you like that?” That doesn’t happen with an e-reader.
Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other e-readers take all this out of the equation.
And that is very sad to me.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!