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Print Books Versus Ebooks: Which Do You Prefer?

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

by TJ McCue

Consumer Tech

Ebooks and audiobooks have been growing in popularity for years, despite calls from traditional print book lovers that they are an abomination. That’s a bit of sarcasm as I often hear from my friends and family that “only print” can satisfy their need for proper reading. One must feel the paper. 

However, the wonderful folks at the Pew Research Center published a very timely bit of research this week as I started a post about an Ebook reader that I like, Libby, by Overdrive. The Pew post: One-in-five Americans now listen to audiobooks (link at end). In it, Andrew Perrin shares: 

Americans are spreading their book consumption across several formats, and the use of audiobooks is on the rise. Roughly seven-in-ten U.S. adults (72%) say they have read a book in the past 12 months in any format, a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2012, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 8-Feb. 7, 2019. Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 65% of adults saying they had read a print book in the year before the survey.

Have You Met Libby? This Ebook Reader Is Awesome

So, let’s get to the practical part of this post: You need an ebook reader app or an audiobook player. I highly recommend Libby, from OverDrive, because it works with over 43,000 libraries and schools in 75 countries. It is arguably the largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks and other digital media (outside of Amazon, I’d guess). You can add multiple library card accounts to it, including your high school or college accounts, as well as public libraries. 

Of course, there are many other popular ebook reader apps that you probably have already installed. Google Play Books, Amazon Kindle, and Apple Books. But I would suggest that Libby is one to use to save yourself some money, but more so, to support the great library system we have here in the USA. It works well, is rated highly (#4 in the iOS App Store with over 550,000 reviews for a total 4.8 rating; it also has an Editor’s Choice rating on Google Play). 

Libby can also send your library-borrowed ebooks to your Kindle app, just in case you cannot manage to download another app. You can use it in different browsers if you are logged into your public library directly (this may depend on options your local library configures for its patrons).

There is also a Windows 10 app that works decently well. You can see in the screenshot above that I borrowed Austin Kleon’s book: Steal like an Artist. I had his newest book, Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, on hold, but couldn’t wait for the library waitlist so I bought it on Amazon (no affiliate link). Totally worth buying. I see that as part of what libraries make possible - taste and see, then decide that you want it in your digital collection forever. Samples don’t quite give you enough.

37 percent say they only read print books

I will close with acknowledging my rabid, paper-loving fam and friends are right. Paper is potentially a more satisfying way to experience a book. But my position: it is heavy and cumbersome to carry. The Pew research explains that relatively few Americans only consume digital books to the exclusion of print. While the subheading about 37 percent of Americans say they read only print books does not surprise me, I would like to suggest we, as print and digital readers combined, help fix the saddest statistic in this study: that approximately one quarter of Americans haven’t read a book in any format in the past year. That statistic alone, if fixed or improved, would certainly change the world. 

You can read the full Pew Research post: One-in-five Americans now listen to audiobooks.


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