30 Sep 2015

So it's not just me.

I am struggling to read a book currently.I don't have reading difficulties-I love reading books.I have reading difficulties with e-books.This is my fourth attempt at reading an e-book.I managed the first three but did not enjoy the experience. I am not absorbing the books.I struggled on because I thought that it was me and that with greater familiarity I would start to accept the e-reading experience.It has not turned out to be so.
Yesterday the SMH carried a story that Norwegian researchers had found that readers of digital texts had a much lower retention of the content than readers of printed books.This has major implications for students studying for exams.
So I am not alone in not retaining what I am reading in an e-book and I was not surprised to read in the NYT last week that sales of e-book reading devices are tanking and that sales of e-books have fallen 15% in the first 5 months of 2015 after rising exponentially for 7 years.
It seems that printed book sales are staging a significant comeback along with bookshops.Indeed in the US the number of bookshops actually increased significantly last year after years of decline.The American Booksellers Association counted 1712 members with 2227 locations in 2015 up from 1410 members in 1660 locations five years ago.
It is not just older readers who are turning back to printed books.According to the NYT story young digital natives bought up on digital devices are turning to printed books as well.
The NYT story was a business story so they put the switch back to paper books-aka as real books-down to the fact that e-books are often not much cheaper than their printed versions.I don't believe that this is the reason.After all they are invairably cheaper so why would people switch from buying the cheapest even if the e-books are not as cheap as expected? No, I am sure that the enjoyment/content retention factor is the key driver here.Another factor is that you can pass on a real book.You can give it to a friend/family member or give it to the Salvos.Or put it on your bookshelf.Bookshelves contribute to a homely feel in a home.A real book has a second or even a third life.A good book can be a friend.An e-book is a folder on a device.
I still like reading newspapers online.I have no problems there but I don't enjoy reading my favourite magazines online.And after I have struggled through this last e-book I will be deleting the Kindle app from my iPad.
Paper manufacturers around the world can start recommissioning those mothballed plants.We're back.

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