Three weeks ago I posted a poll on this blog. The results are now in, and I must admit that I am a little surprised by the outcome. The question was about the ongoing debate over printed books vs. electronic books, and it was titled simply "Which Do You Prefer?" The results were:
Printed Books - 62%
E-Books - 8%
Both - 30%
As for those who chose "printed" or "e-book," the comments I received were the standard arguments we have all heard made for each option numerous times since e-readers became mainstream. What surprised me was the high number that answered "both," mainly because the media frenzy surrounding this issue rarely includes that option. Several people responded that they would be likely to continue to buy both because there were some times when they wanted to read on their e-reader (during the work commute, on vacation, etc) and other times when they wanted to hold a printed book in their hands (when curled up on the couch on a rainy day, when reading to their children, etc).
Obviously this was not a scientific poll, but it was one where (given the nature of this blog) the respondents are most likely actual readers. Many of the other polls of this type never take into account that a majority of those queried haven't read any type of book since high school.
The 8% result for e-books is intriguing for another reason. According to several publishers' statistics, in 2010 electronic books made up just a little over 8% of the total book sales in the United States. There is no doubt this number will increase in the coming years, but it is an interesting coincidence. I was personally gratified that printed books still won a clear majority in their own right, as I am both a traditionalist when it comes to books and a collector (try getting your favorite author to sign your Kindle).
The debate over printed books vs. electronic books will continue for the foreseeable future, but for today at least it appears that the printed book is both still very much alive and unlikely to meet its demise anytime soon.