This is a guest post by Nancy Cudis, an award-winning Cebuano journalist.
IN LATE December 2011, The Christian Science Monitor reported of e-book readers complaining of higher prices of e-books as prices of reading devices plunged, saying that it is difficult to justify the purchase of e-books worth $10-$12 when one can buy a used physical book over at Amazon for $2.
However, in January this year, the USA Today reported a post-holiday e-book “surge” with 32 of the top 50 book titles on its list at that time selling more copies in digital format than in print, including all top 10 titles such as The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson; and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
I’m not going to jump into conclusions, but I can tell that there is a trend of readers across the globe reading e-books. Does this affect physical books? Will this trend lead to the death of print books?
There are different ways of looking into this. One is, I know of many book bloggers who read both e-books and physical books and still express their love for the latter, saying that the scent and feel of paper can never replace the convenience that e-books give. Hence, if these book bloggers represent a sample in the whole reading population, then we can surmise that more individuals will embrace e-books without giving up print books. This will then lead us to surmise that authors and publishers will have to learn to embrace the two reading formats.
Two, not all can afford a reading device, especially here in the Philippines. Many poor and even middle-income families are more concerned with putting food on the table than buying their eldest with a tablet for his/her birthday. But that does not stop companies and organizations, such as Vibal Foundation, from digitizing book titles.
There is a question by pinoytechblog on whether or not the Philippines is ready for e-book readers. Judging from the way the young generation in the country is embracing technology, particularly gadgets, I think the Philippines is ready for e-book devices; we already have tablets and smartphones dominating the malls’ cyber zones. Still, with this case, how do we explain the numerous young people flocking to the local bookstores when I visit these shops almost every other day?
But for the younger generation, or the children, you might want to reconsider reading to them over an e-reader after studies show that doing so makes the children slower to read and understand the story. According to the researchers at Temple University, parents reading aloud and asking questions at certain intervals allows the children to think and focus on the story rather than having a device read to them wherein children are more focused on how to use the device properly.
To conclude, these scenarios tell us that it’s really the consumers who decide whether or not they let physical books die. So, if this question is thrown to you, would you let physical or print books die?
For me, I know I wouldn’t.
Nancy Cudis writes at her blog, www.nancycudis.com. She hosts Short Stories on Wednesdays and monthly Readings in Philippine Literature. Apart from short stories, she enjoys classics, children’s and middle-grade books, Christian and historical fiction, and (clean) romance. If she is not blogging, writing, or reading, she is driving and enjoying the fresh air on a road trip. While she owns a Kindle, she prefers bringing a physical book anywhere. Bump her at firstname.lastname@example.org.