The Impact of E-books

Cynthia Wang, Staff Writer

With the rise of phones, computers, and everything technology related, digital versions of literature, like e-books and audiobooks, are quickly growing in popularity, even more so due to the pandemic. According to Jane Friedman, an experienced individual in the publishing industry, there has been a 4.3% growth in e-book sales through May 2020. With the many perks they have, it is no surprise as to why.

It is easy to infer why many prefer to read e-books over physical copies. Freshman Ryu Dy states, “They are not only less expensive, but more convenient,” which appears to be a popular opinion. “Not everyone wants to carry multiple books with them everywhere, but everybody has a phone,” he explains. In an era where technology is at its peak, most would agree that it would be foolish to lug around physical copies of books when you could easily download them onto your phone or Kindle, at an even lower price at that. Additionally, junior Colin Yuen says, “Being able to highlight and take notes directly on the book without damaging it is a very useful feature. You cannot really do that with a physical copy.” Book connoisseurs will agree that writing on books is something of a crime, but many students find it is much easier to take notes directly on the book and not having to flip between numerous sheets of paper. E-books negate this problem entirely, allowing book loving students to keep their copies looking brand new while also making their work a bit easier.

Though e-books have many benefits, it is not entirely the greatest thing since sliced bread. There are many cons that fall short of physical books, a big one being eyestrain. Sophomore Haley Lu says, “Reading an e-book is a lot more tiring than reading a physical one or listening to an audiobook. When I do read e-books, it is for a shorter time because of the eyestrain.” According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit American academic medical center, “Extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of eyestrain.” Students, especially in this day and age, already stare at a screen for long periods of time. Whether it be that they are researching for an essay or taking a break by texting their friends, reading a book on their phone will only cause additional eyestrain. Another reason why some prefer physical books is simply because of the feeling. Senior Naina Shankar says, “I do not have a concrete reason as to why I like physical books better. Maybe it is because of nostalgia or the feeling of the pages, but put face to face, e-books just cannot compare.” Though e-book sales are rising, physical book sales are still on par which proves that others relate to Shankar. “Book shopping is a big hobby of mine as well. The covers are very important to me.” she adds. Many people can agree that the aesthetic and collecting of books is an entertainment in itself and cannot be replicated with digital copies.

Every student has to read for school whether it be textbooks for history or Shakespeare’s writings for English. When it comes to education, Shankar much prefers digital textbooks. She says, “The ability to search keywords is extremely important and saves me a lot of time.” As a student, it is essential to save as much time and energy as possible to complete all required work for an assortment of classes. Being able to find crucial information within seconds immensely benefits students’ ability to finish work on time. Furthermore, Dy reiterates, “Our backpacks are already heavy enough and not having to carry around textbooks is a huge benefit.” As the majority of students do not have lockers and have to carry their bags from class to class, being able to pull up the needed textbook or articles on a personal device is a valuable asset. Along with this, many teachers are also helping ease students’ hardships by giving them access to an online textbook or allowing them to use their phones or laptops in class.

E-books are a huge success especially when cost, accessibility, and convenience are put into consideration, but does this mean that physical books will die out? Dy says, “They definitely will, but not anytime soon,” while Lu retorts, “There is no way physical books will die out when many people, myself included, still prefer them.” Additionally, while e-books are more convenient to many, those who do not have access to them will still be able to enjoy reading physical books borrowed from libraries, which will in turn keep the alive. Nonetheless, e-book sales continue to grow in popularity, but definitely not at the expense of physical book sales. Whether you prefer one or the other, the pleasure of reading a good book still shines regardless.