Will E-Books Replace Printed Books? – Facts & Infographic

Will E-Books Replace Printed Books? – Facts & Infographic

Will E-Books Replace Printed Books.

As publishers and book lovers gather in Frankfurt this week for the world's largest book fair, the question on everyone's mind is, will e-books replace printed books?

For the love of Books

“So many books, so little time.” ? Frank Zappa

In 2010, there were about 328,259 new titles and editions published in the US alone while approximately 2,200,000 titles were published worldwide. Advancing technology, however, has opened the doors to e-reading and digitized books, also called e-books. According to 2013 statistics, 20% of Americans own or use an e-reading device and another 20% of the population had plans to start using an e-reader in 2014. In a recent survey about 10% of book readers said they had switched from printed books to e-books when they bought an e-reader, the rest simply read both print books and e-books. People with an e-reader seem to read more. Readers of printed books read about 15 books a year while those with an e-reader read almost 24 books each year. While both print books and e-books have their own supporters, there are times when one may be preferred over the other. 81% of Americans prefer printed books while reading with a child, but 73% prefer e-books while travelling. Most readers agreed the biggest advantage of e-readers was that they were lightweight, portable and great space savers in the home or office where space for storing books is a concern. The question if e-books will make print/paper books obsolete is, however, a matter of much contention and debate.

Age of the E-Readers

An e-reader or e-book reader is an electronic device that facilitates mobile reading of books and periodicals in a digital format. An e-reader can hold many hundreds of books and offer a number of facilities such as highlighting text, looking up the meaning of difficult words, embedded lighting system, zoom in/out to adjust font size, bookmarking, internet connectivity using Wi-Fi etc.

The earliest reader to use electronic paper was the Sony Librie in 2004. Soon a number of e-readers flooded the market and tablet computer manufacturers were creating applications that facilitated the reading of digital books on these devices. According to statistics from International Data Corporation, over 12.8 million e-book readers were sold in 2010. Among these 48% were Kindle e-readers, giving Amazon a clear lead. In 2012, however, it was reported that e-readers showed a steady decline in sales. IHS iSuppli predicts that only 7 million units may be sold in 2016; the e-reading space is increasingly being captured by tablet computers.

Amazon launched its bestselling Kindle Fire in the late 2011 and the e-reader quickly captured much market share within the first few months of its launch. In December 2011 the Kindle Fire was anticipated to have captured about 5% of the e-reader market but by mid-January 2012 it grew to about 14%.

According to a Pew Internet survey from 2011, those who did not own e-book reading devices or read on their tablet computers said the top reasons were:

1. They do not perceive a need for one

2. E-readers are too expensive and unaffordable

3. They have enough digital devices and do not wish to acquire any more

4. They prefer printed books.

Best E-Readers of 2013

Nook HD - The 7 inch Nook e-book reading device has a high resolution for its size. With a 1,440 x 900 display and Android platform it is a favorite with its owners. The Nook e-readers have been developed by American book retailer Barnes & Noble.

Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight - The first e-book reading device to have a built-in light provided users the facility of reading right on in low light without interruptions. Though this reader has competition now, it still remains a favorite.

Kobo Mini – This 5 inch reader has Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreen, and E Ink Display. Its size makes for easy portability. The Kobo series of E-readers are produced by Kobo Inc.

Kobo Glow – With built-in light and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Kobo Glow provides stiff competition to other readers in this range, being the lowest priced.

Kobo Arc – The Kobo Arc allows users to download books from various sources and also allows for apps, games, and music to be downloaded to the system. While primarily a reader, it can be used for storing files other than texts.

Kobo Aura HD – The Kobo Aura is a light, touchscreen e-reading device that allows for reading from multiple sources.

Kindle Pricing is its biggest USP but the Kindle is a pretty sturdy product to bank on. It is produced byAmazon and preferred by digital readers the world over.

Kindle Paperwhite – Amazon’s bestselling e-reader has four embedded LEDs and has a wonderful feel. It is perfect for someone who reads a lot and for long hours.

Kindle HD 8.9in – With a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution and Amazon's Android platform, the Kindle HD 8.9 comes with a choice of 16 GB and 32 GB memory. Despite its distinctive size it is a much preferred e-reader.

Kindle Fire HD The standard 7 inch variant of the above is an e-reader that allows you to connect to Amazon’s store and access apps, games, music, journals, magazines, and books.

A look at the best-selling books and e-Books sold by Amazon also gives us a clue about the profile of readers more likely to use an e-book reader. E-book buyers seem to prefer fiction while print books readers seem to prefer non-fiction.

                                                  Amazon Bestsellers 2013


E-Book Bestsellers 2013



Robert Langdon

Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn

Safe Haven

Nicholas Sparks

Entwined With You

Sylvia Day

And The Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini

The Cuckoo's Calling

Robert Galbraith

The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald


Colleen Hoover

The Hit

David Baidacci

Printed Book Bestsellers 2013


StrengthsFinder 2.0

Tom Rath

Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead

Sheryl Sandberg


Robert Langdon

The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald

Proof Of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife

Eben Alexander

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence

Sarah Young

The Official SAT Study Guide

The College Board

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

American Psychiatric Association

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

American Psychological Association


Printed Books Vs E-Books

Books are frozen in time, yet in digital form, they can live in never-ending editions” – Jeff Jarvis (The Guardian)

print books offer a number of advantages over e-books:

  • print books have a great resale value and are often used as collector’s' items. Print books are often keepsakes passed down for generations.
  • print books offer ease of reading without hurting one’s eyes due to the artificial lighting of electronic devices.
  • print books do not require expensive e-book reading devices, Internet connectivity, and charging devices/ports that are imperative for reading digital books.
  • Loss of a single print book does not mean the loss of a collection/library. The loss/corruption of an e-reader could mean the loss of many hundreds of books.

E-books similarly offer a number of advantages over printed books:

  • The biggest advantage one has with e-books is that of portability. Hundreds of books can be carried easily in a handheld device.
  • E-books are often cheaper than print books as publishers save on printing costs. A number of e-books are offered free of cost or with major discounts due to the low costs of production.
  • Ease of shopping is another major advantage of e-books. They can be bought online and delivered within minutes.
  • Font size adjustment, layout adjustments, a built-in dictionary and adjustable reading lights are some very handy additions to e-books that are appreciated by users.

Why Printed Books?

Book lovers reveal a number of surprising reasons why printed books may never go out of fashion.

An experience beyond compare: “It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read”. Reading a printed book offers an experience that is quite irreplaceable. Thumbing through a well-read and well-loved print book is an experience digital books don’t offer. Parents reading to children often prefer printed versions: This is because it allows children to play, bend the pages, and get a truly hands-on experience with a book.

The smell of old books: Scientists now believe that the smell of old books is a combination of cut grass, vanilla, and acids. It is, however, among the favorite smells of regular readers and makes a library full of printed books all the more precious for people across the world. The smell of old books evokes a nostalgia that e-books quite lack.

Physical beauty: The physical beauty of printed books cannot be replaced by their digital counterparts. Readers often hunt for and buy better prints/editions – hardback or leather-bound versions of their favorite books – for the sake of sheer physical beauty. Anna Quindlen said in Enough Bookshelves (New York Times, August 1991), “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves”.

print books as collectibles: The value of old books, rare editions, and texts now out of circulation are immense. While digitization is touted as the best-known solution to preserve out-of-print books, owners of these deem their collections to be precious. Rare books owned by celebrities or famous personalities are known to fetch large amounts for their value as collectibles.

Will Printed Books Soon Die Out?

According to a 2013 poll by SurveyMonkey, about 45% of Americans agree that "E-Books will eventually become the most popular form of books in publishing". About 20% of other respondents strongly agree that this will indeed be the case. About 22% neither agree nor disagree, and just over 10% disagree, while about 3% strongly disagree. But will printed books or print books die out altogether?

According to Scholastic, the number of children who now read e-books has doubled since 2010. 58 percent of kids (age 9-17) say they will always want to read books printed on print even though there are ebooks available (a decline from 66% in 2010), revealing the digital shift in children’s reading that has begun.

There is something, however, to be said in favor of print books. The allure of reading from print is far from dying out.

As Josh Catone says in his article "Why Printed Books Will Never Die" (Mashable, Jan 16, 2013), “But there's something about print that I can't give up. There's something about holding a book in your hand and the visceral act of physically turning a page that, for me at least, can't be matched with pixels on a screen”.

While it is a fact that more readers are turning towards e-books or books in a digital format, preferences for printed books still run high. More publishers are turning towards digitization as the solution to preserve rare titles, and to overcome any challenges faced with printing books. Most of them are supplementing their publications, and e-books are complementary to their printed books. In publishing the bestselling series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott, the original six fantasy novels were published both as print and as e-books. Two exclusive e-books were released online as tie-ins to supplement the series.

Books: Opinions And Preferences

According to a Rasmussen Reports survey in the US (July 2013), 75% of American adults prefer to read books in the traditional print format than on e-book reading devices such as the Kindle. In stark contrast, only about 15% said that they prefer reading on an e-reader. 10% respondents remained undecided.

In an earlier survey by BookBoon in 2012, 57.8% students from the US preferred digital books to print books. In the UK, the percentage of students with a preference for digital books stood at 41% while about 59% preferred print books; in Germany 64.6% preferred print books and the rest liked digital books better. In the Netherlands, print books won 70% votes and digital books 30% while in Denmark over 73.2% preferred print books and the remaining 26.8% chose digital books. The top reason for all those who preferred digital books was easy portability while the top reason put forth by those opting for print books was that they were easy to read.

It has, however, become clear that e-books and the digital format are here to stay. Even in countries where the e-reader was launched late, a significant number of regular readers are now opting for digital books. Amazon launched its e-book store in India in August 2012. A poll conducted soon after revealed that 45% Indians still prefer print books. While 20% prefer buying e-books, the remaining 35% said they would switch to e-books if the price difference were considerable. Predictably, the Amazon e-book store in India offers major discounts on e-books.

The ease of digitization also offers options such as print on demand and has led to an increase in self-publishing. It seems likely that in days to come more readers will switch to e-books, but printed books, as they become less prevalent, will be more cherished and will always find a place in the hearts, minds and bookshelves of readers.



























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