Back in 2011, Venture Beat posted an article boasting that eReaders and their eBooks are killing paperback books. They considered the demise of paperbacks as a sort of karmic balancing in retaliation for killing all the trees; the general lower price of eBooks and the ease of highlighting passages are two of the main points that sway readers to choose the electronic books.
The decline of paperbacks continued in 2012 as well. A Pew Research survey found that while the number of people who had read an eBook increased by 6%, while those who had read a traditional book declined by 5%.
|Image from Pew Research Internet Project:
E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps
It’s been 3 years since the original scare, and traditional books are still read more than eBooks. That isn’t to say that eReadership isn’t on the rise; the percentage of Americans who have read an eBook has jumped from 17% in 2011 to 28%. It seems reading in general is becoming more popular. In 2014, 76% of Americans have read a book in any format, as compared to only 74% in 2012.
While eBooks take up less physical space, provide easily searchable materials and often allow users to quickly copy quotes to their social media network of choice, bound books still retain a large portion of control over the market. Devoted readers often cite things like the scent and the feel of a new book as their main reason for sticking with traditional books. Also it’s easier to share books with your friends and family via a traditional book.
I read both eBooks and paperbacks. I enjoy having a hard copy to keep on my bookshelves, but since I’ve moved a lot recently, I’ve had to cut back on my mini-library. I’m a strong believer that it’s not an either-or situation; I can build my personal library with paperbacks and supplement the library with free eBooks.