The Battle Between Ebooks and Traditional Books

23 August 2014


Electronic books or ebooks have changed the face of how we receive and use information. Schools are increasingly using mobile devices to deliver portions of the curriculum. In some cases, a desktop is not even necessary. The Nebraska Department of Education conducted a study during the 2012-2013 school year of 247 public school districts concerning the use of mobile devices. It estimated approximately 28,000 mobile devices were utilized in those districts.


What does this mean for the future of traditional books?


On the college level, academic ebooks cost 60% less than traditional print books. A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that ebook usage by those in the ages of 16 years and up increased 7 percent from 2011 and print book usage dropped in that same age range by 5 percent. The benefit of having all of your texts in an ebook format means fewer books to keep up with. One of the drawbacks of using the ebooks on a mobile device is the ability to be distracted by the ease of surfing the Internet.


Benefits of traditional books


Although ebooks are gaining in popularity, most students still prefer a traditional print book. The Pew Research Center also found that gender is not a factor either. Both males and females preferred print books to ebooks and audio books. A UK-based used book marketplace called Fatbrain conducted a survey revealing the top ten reasons people prefer print books. Here are the results.


  1. How the book physically feels

  2. Learning with the book

  3. Being able to physically share the book

  4. Visual aspects including cover designs and illustrations

  5. The ability to re-sell the book

  6. The ability to collect a series of books

  7. Physically giving a book as a gift

  8. The shopping experience when buying a print book

  9. The aroma of the book

  10. People feel and look more intelligent when reading print books


Judging by search results on the Internet, electronic versus print is a big debate that is not going anywhere anytime soon. Even though print is more popular, educators are keeping up with the trends in technology. Starting Fall semester 2014, Concordia University in Nebraska is requiring all students in its teacher education program to use an iPad.


eLearning is here to stay


Having started my college studies at a brick-and-mortar school and transferring and completing my degree with an online university, I can honestly say I appreciate how technology is changing the landscape of information delivery. I do not know if I would have been too happy if all my reading had to be done using ebooks. I still have all of my print textbooks, and I refer to them often. I can wholeheartedly agree with the participants in the Fatbrain survey. Ebooks have their place in society but they will never replace traditional print books…at least not in our lifetime. 





Carlton L. Lewis


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