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Readers favor print over e-book format

Rochester Business Journal
July 26, 2013

Respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are loyal to traditional book formats.
Seventy percent favor print over e-books. Of the nearly 375 who said they rarely or never read e-books, 78 percent said they just prefer print. Six percent said the price of the e-books was a factor, and 2 percent said the price of the devices was a deterrent. Seven percent said they rarely read books.

Sales of dedicated e-readers and tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad and’s Kindle Fire have been a big factor in the growth of the e-book market. E-books have grown from less than 1 percent of the trade market in 2008 to nearly 23 percent last year, according to American Association of Publishers data reported by Digital Book World. E-book sales in 2012 increased 41 percent, while the total book market grew 6 percent. However, e-book sales in 2012 were down from triple-digit increases in recent years.

A federal judge recently ruled that Apple illegally conspired with five major publishers to raise prices of e-books. The publishers settled their cases, but Apple maintained—and continues to maintain—that it has not violated the law.

Of nearly 400 Snap Poll respondents who said they read e-books, the plurality—37 percent—picked the Kindle as their preferred device. Slightly less than a third said they read on their iPad, and 13 percent use a Nook.

Roughly 590 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted July 22 and 23.

What book format do you prefer for reading: e-book or print?
Print: 70%
E-book: 30%

If you read e-books, what device do you use?
Amazon Kindle: 37%
Apple iPad: 30%
Barnes & Noble Nook: 13%
Smartphone: 7%
Desktop/laptop computer: 5%
Other: 7%

If you rarely or never read e-books, why not?
I prefer print books: 78%
I rarely read books: 7%
Price of e-books: 6%
Price of e-book devices: 2%
Other: 6%


While I greatly prefer to read print books, I can read e-books on an iPad while on the treadmill—(which) I can’t do with a print book. Many people are unaware that you can download e-books from your local library for free, and the library will help you get your device set up!
—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions Inc.

E-books have their place, but not for leisure reading. They are particularly useful as an alternative to expensive reference sets found in libraries, which usually do not leave the building. E-books allow many individuals to access the information found in these books at one time, from anywhere, regardless of whether or not the physical library is open. However, reading a print book is much more relaxing, especially for pleasure. It is also easier to read print than on a lit screen. I look at a computer screen enough for work!
—Sandy Johnson, literacy consultant, Delaney Educational

An organization ranked the great inventions of the world, and the No. 1 was Gutenberg’s printing press. I wonder where the e-book will rank? I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like to jump around, underline and mark up my books. I even belong to a book club—not an e-book club. We meet in a conference room, not online.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services P.C.

I love e-books over print! I can carry entire libraries of books with me and download current newspapers or magazines anytime. For leisure reading, I now find print to be an archaic way to move stories and information. For research and scholarly endeavors, sometimes print is still superior because it is easier to annotate using ink or pencil.
—Jennifer Freer

A good read deserves the permanence of printed pages. Plus it’s easier to let a friend borrow. And is an “e-book” truly a book, or just a story in large digital format? The dictionary definition of “book” includes that it’s made of “ink, paper or parchment, etc.” Then again, the dictionary says marriage is between a man and a woman.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Besides the price of e-books, which is rarely a bargain, those that I want electronically are unavailable. Of those I’ve purchased in the past, I’ve complained to the retailer because it was rife with errors. They gave me my money back, but that doesn’t provide much satisfaction. I’ve asked why there are so many errors, and they just apologize. They also will not tell me how their books are translated. I suspect there is little human intervention, leading to the numerous errors. It’s just not worth the small savings in the cost over an actual book. By the way, is anyone interested in buying a slightly used Amazon Kindle?
—Craig Shaw, Stratus Imaging

I need a 12-step program to quit my iPad. First step: Admit you need help. I need help; I am addicted. If you buy a book for $25 or $30, you can loan it to a friend, sell it at a yard sale, donate it to a charity or burn it in winter for kindling. But I continue to buy e-books from Apple at $12 each (give or take), and the prices keep going up. Why? Because I am an addict, like I said. I need help! What’s the second step? Does anyone know?
—John Calia, chair, Vistage International

I recently switched to an iPad Mini from a Nook Classic. It is a world of difference! My concern was the stability of Barnes & Noble to support their platform, and I didn’t want to lose the ability to read my extensive library of e-books. Now I am confident that e-books are here to stay (although I miss the heft and satisfaction of a hardcover first-edition in print format).
—Lou Calarese, Applied Audio & Theatre Supply

I love taking a book to bed, or the beach, or in the backyard lounge chair. Any electronic device reminds me of work: emails, work left over from the day and the work that awaits me the next day. A book lets me escape for a few hours.
—Leslie Apetz

I prefer e-books if traveling or to borrow from the library (no overdue fines!) but still like to hold an actual book in my hands much of the time.
—Joan Roby-Davison

There is something about the look, feel and permanence of a real book that creates a strong preference in my mind. And there is a certain joy that comes from seeing a previously read book on the shelf and bringing it down for a moment of re-enjoyment.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

I had every intention of using my Kindle to read but have found printed material to be easier. You don’t have to turn off a book on the plane, and you don’t have to worry about splashing at the pool or beach. However, the Kindle is being used regularly for videos and Angry Birds! Having options is nice.
—Nancy May, APPC

I consider part of the value of a book’s price is its resale/reuse value. Since they charge “full price” for e-books and I can neither give nor resell the digital rights, I choose traditional books. Besides, with a real book, I have assurance of access forever!
—R. Wilbur, Webster

I like e-books because real books make me sleepy and I drop them and lose my place. E-books remember where I left off. Also, purchasing e-books is instantaneous. No waiting for shipment, no travel and no paper used.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

Kindle is great, particularly when traveling. But when the book requires referring back or forward to find information, tables and charts, a printed book is preferred.
—Art Maurer, Penfield

I have grown up reading newspapers and magazines on print (I’m over 50) and find I very much prefer that format. I have read a few books on my e-reader and find it is good for me in certain situations, like low-light situations. I don’t like reading the newspaper online or on an e-reader.
—Stanley Hilt

I read Kindle books across several devices, but mainly on my Android smartphone. I love that I can highlight and make notes that I can refer back to. E-books are also easily searchable so I can find a specific passage that I want to share with someone. I have paid for several e-books, but I get most of them for free from sites like I also have an Amazon Prime membership that gives me one loaner book per month. My local library gives me access to Kindle books that I can borrow, and my notes and highlights are preserved for when I take it out again or if I decide later to buy it from Amazon. I do most of my reading in bed after my son is asleep, so having a screen that I can read in the dark is ideal. I’ve all but given up on print books for myself, but my son has many more print books than e-books. Children’s e-books, when they are created as apps, have wonderful interactive features that help kids to read and keep them coming back to learn more. I wrote a post on my mommy blog, Marvy Moms, where you can see some of the e-book apps that my son has enjoyed:
—Emily Carpenter, WhizBang! Web Solutions LLC

My answer to the initial question would be audio books. Yard work, car trips and exercise are much more enjoyable while listening to a good book.
—Juli Klie, Veritor

E-books are handy and wonderful for traveling, but nothing can substitute for the feel of a good book as you turn page after page to learn what comes next. The screen just doesn’t have the same connection—convenient though my Nook may be.
—Linda Gallagher, MVP Health Care

I enjoy both formats, for different things. I especially enjoy the e-books for large books; carrying around a giant hardcover is a pain. I enjoy paperbacks for plane rides and traveling—easier to stow, batteries never wear out, don’t have to put them away during the “no technology” phase of flight.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed Inc.

A Nook or any device is a lot lighter and easy to travel with than a stack of books. Plus, the e-books are cheaper, and it’s fun to have your own personal library in your hand.
—Ken Pamatat, Creative Images

I guess I am old-school. I can’t seem to get used to reading e-books. There is something about the feel and smell of the paper and the curling edges of the paperback cover that are all part of the reading experience. It might also be the sore nose I get every time I fall asleep reading my iPad that has me going back to print.
—Myriam Contiguglia, RGRTA

E-books are more efficient and easier to use because of their small and thin size. You can put them in your briefcase, to read in bed or take to the bathroom when the time is right.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield

E-books should be pennies; cheap delivery costs not reflected very much in the price and sales tax is also an issue.
—Gregg Palis

I read books in text mode, using a screen reader to voice it.
—Will Herzog

7/26/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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