Before you buy them an e-reader for Christmas…

Analogue entertainment … a teenage reader. Photograph: RelaXimages/Corbis

Analogue entertainment … a teenage reader. Photograph: RelaXimages/Corbis

Consider, for a moment, the mind-blowing fact that perhaps that special someone would prefer a physical book for Christmas.

No, seriously. I was surprised as well.

According to this article, 62% of 16-to-24 year-olds prefer physical books to e-readers. The reasoning?

The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), “I can easily share it” (10%), “I like the packaging” (9%), and “I can sell it when used” (6%).

I’ve always been a fan of physical books, and not just because I work at a bookstore and my livelihood depends on it. There really is some tactile magic that makes holding a book feels warmer and nicer than holding a piece of electronic wizardry. I’m not surprised to see that it is the top reason why people prefer them to e-readers.

What does surprise me is the fact that battery life wasn’t even mentioned in percentages. In all my years of reading, I’ve never had the battery die on a physical book while I’m in the middle of a good scene.

But probably the biggest surprise was that the audience for this questionnaire is made up of people you would assume to be target market for electronic gadgets. And yet, physical books won the competition. Maybe that means that I’ll keep my job at the bookstore for a while longer.

How about you? Do you prefer physical or e-books?

3 thoughts on “Before you buy them an e-reader for Christmas…

  1. Josh: well done. I like both. I like for travel reading the e-reader convenience of carrying 100 books in less than 3#. Weight restriction is sometimes a big deal as is volume restrictions during travel.

    However I LOVE real books. I love the tactile feel of real paper and pages. And it is like “real” reading. I like that with a real book it is easier to interact with the text. Especially for study, questions, highlights in contest and the ability not only to re-read years later, but to notice new things and growth or differing thinking when I read my old notes, study commentary and questions. Sometimes I smile wondering “what was I thinking?”, sometimes I’m glad to have earlier “cheat sheets” but I always notice new thing on a reread. Besides which one of the ongoing joys of my life is owning and reading your Grandpa Mosey’s old Bible.

    • To me, books are so much better than e reader for the simple fact that I would not buy any on the e reader. I prefer to have the real thing for a bit more money and to be able to feel it, smell it (I like the smell too :P) and make it mine by unintentionally staining it with food…

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