Saturday, October 22, 2011

Are Electronic Books Better than Traditional Ones?

Which is better: e-books or the printed kind?

The question is both complicated and astonishingly simple. We maintain that it’s also deeply personal. Which might be true for me may not hold true for you. Mashable doesn’t agree:
Ever wonder which method of reading is better for you -- electronic screen or printed text?

The answer: There is no difference.
Well, that’s a bit of an oversimplification. For one thing, it’s not the same. For another, it’s different. The experts would not agree:
“There are no disadvantages to reading from electronic reading devices compared with reading printed texts,” according to a study by Research Unit Media Convergence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, operator of the ebook platform Libreka!.
Study or no, I’m holding fast on this one. What’s “better” in this instance is likely situational. Am I at my desk? In bed? On a beach? In the bath? And it’s personal. What do you like? What do you need?

In a classroom, I think the electronic version would always rock: give me random access so I can find what I need in haste! On vacation, e-books are clearly better: you can haul a whole library around the world with you if you want. But when I’m reading outside, under my favorite tree and a sudden rainshower shows up, I want don’t want to have to worry about delicate electronic parts. But, see? These things are personal, as well.

In the end, none of it matters. (And what if it did?) Here’s what does: we’re talking about reading. We’re talking about books. That’s the important thing. And the rest of it? That’s like Purolator or UPS: the method of delivery is clearly up to you, what matters is getting the package home in the way that makes the most sense to you.

1 comment:

David Tanaka said...

Hi Linda
Well, yet another study says real books are still easier to read.
Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen says iPad and Kindle are easier than computer screens but still behind good old paper books.
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ipad-kindle-reading.html

But I must admit I read more iPad books than paper ones.

David