“Will e-books ever take over print?” – Hannah Lewis

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By Hannah Lewis

In the last few years the rise of the e-book has seemingly taken everyone by storm, and an e-book reader is a must-have gadget for many. The benefits of reading e-books are there for everyone to see: they are easier to carry around, you can change the font size so that people with bad eyesight can read them, and in the long run it is cheaper than buying paper books, to name a few. This new phenomenon has now begged the question, is this going to be the death of the traditional print book?

Print books have been around for centuries and were popularised among the masses with the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century. Yet many have predicted that in a world that is now digitising everything, this may be the end of books as we know it.

Having said that, there are many people out there who do not get the same enjoyment out of reading an e-book as they do from reading a paper book. To some this may sound absurd, as a novel would have exactly the same words written in it regardless of the format it is read on. Despite that, there is just something so magical about holding a book physically in your hand; the way they smell, the illustrations on the front cover, having to break the spine for the first time. An e-book just does not convey the same feeling, it is cold, modern and in many ways two-dimensional. A print book can tell you a story just from looking at it, whether it is an old book or a new one, the author/publisher has designed it in a particular way for the reader to enjoy. E-books do not seem to give book-worms the same satisfaction that they would get from reading a classic book. In addition, there have been several scientific studies that claim reading e-books before you go to bed can actually reduce your ability to sleep due to their artificial light, and contribute to visual fatigue which results in itching and burning eyes.

It seems that many people are now starting to agree with this point of view. An article in The Guardian from February this year shows how for the first time since they made an appearance, the sales of e-books are actually decreasing. Now this could be due to a number of reasons, but it seems to answer the question of whether or not traditional print books are going to die out. Although e-books undoubtedly have many positive attributes, and perhaps do encourage some younger readers to pick up a book as it is more similar to the technology they use in day to day life, it does not seem likely that traditional print books are going anywhere anytime soon. For book-lovers, nothing is going to beat the sensory experience of reading from a classic, bound paper book. After all, as Cicero, a famous Roman philosopher once said: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Hannah is a third year history student who enjoys reading, baking and jogging. Visit Hannah’s blog at hannahlouiselewis.wordpress.com

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