In recent years, owing to advances in technology, readers are increasingly decamping from traditional reading models into electronic reading systems for digital text.
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E-readers such as Kindle and Nook have found great favor among an unprecedented number of young technology-savvy readers, who argue that the e-reading platform provides mobile accessibility, expanded digital content and affords them the capability to carry hundreds of books at once.
Of course there exist many other benefits that e-readers provide to users that may never be accessible in paperback contexts, but the present paper argues that traditional books are not about to be replaced by e-readers.
There exist several reasons why e-readers are not about to replace traditional books even though they may have received acknowledgement as an improvement of the print reading experience. The first of these reasons can be illuminated by the phrase “old habits die hard.”
Most people who were already accustomed to traditional reading formats find it increasingly difficult to shift to devices centered on seamless, wireless media consumption, suggesting that nostalgia, attachment, comfort and convenience afforded by traditional hardcover or paperback reading can never be replaced by e-readers.
The saying goes that there is something special about curling up in bed with a good book in one’s hands that e-readers such as Kindle and Nook can never substitute irrespective of the fact that the latter provides a more customizable reading experience than the former.
Second, it can be argued that printed books add physical beauty to the reading experience. A considerable number of people buy books that not only appeal to their inner sense of beauty, but also make bold statements about their reading culture.
Book covers in traditional books have been used by authors and marketers as an effective tool to demonstrate these attributes to those who consider them as fundamental to any purchase decision. However, it is difficult for e-readers to demonstrate these attributes.
It is therefore conceivable that people who consider books as objects of beauty will go for traditional books rather than the electronic format.
The third reason why e-readers may fail to replace traditional books deals with the issue of provenance. Digital book versions contained in e-readers such as Kindle and Nook run into difficulties when it comes to defining the readers and what they represent.
On the contrary, traditional books have the capacity to not only define readers and their predispositions, but also act as personal artifacts that can be held as valued family possessions over a long period of time.
For this reason, it would be difficult for e-readers to replace print readers over the course of time.
The forth reason deals with the dynamics of reading and the allocation of critical resources such as time and concentration.
Studies conducted in recent years demonstrate that students using traditional books are more able to achieve optimal concentration than their counterparts using e-readers.
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Although e-readers have been shown to generate a more positive attitude about the reading experience among readers, students using this platform often find themselves playing games as most e-readers are fitted with numerous game consoles.
Such distractions not only affect concentration but also enhance time wastage and other undesirable sets of behavior.
The issue of infrastructure accessibility is of paramount importance when making decisions to replace traditional books with e-readers.
While a person can enjoy reading a paperback book anywhere around the world, e-reader devices can only be used in areas with adequate internet connection.
Most areas in third world countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America do not have the Internet infrastructure in place, implying that e-readers cannot be used in these contexts.
Additionally, while these devices require power to function, it is sad to note that most households in third world countries are yet to be served with power and, therefore, it becomes quite challenging to rely on e-readers for purposes of reading or learning.
Traditional books do not require any of these infrastructures to function.
Sixth, it is not feasible to replace traditional books with e-readers within the academic context as most experts in institutions of learning consider them as anti-scholarly.
It has been argued that e-readers encourage unorthodox behaviors in the academic scene, such as cheating, multi-tasking, skimming and scanning of online textbooks.
The natural consequences of such behaviors are reflected in low standards of education as well as in the creation of half-baked students who find difficulties in assuming work-related roles upon graduation. Traditional books, on the hand, encourage serious and focused reading among students.
Lastly, it can be argued that e-readers will never take over print readers when issues of value and durability are considered.
It is common knowledge that traditional books achieve more value as they age to a point of becoming priceless treasures, whereas content downloaded today into e-readers may be of no value 5-10 years to come, prompting users to use more resources to update their e-readers or buy new versions.
Similarly, traditional books are more durable than e-readers. This exposition of facts demonstrates that traditional books have inherent benefits over e-readers that will undoubtedly prevent them from being eclipsed and probably swallowed by digitalized reading platforms.