Have eBooks Replaced the Traditional Print Titles?

New releases always threaten their older counterparts, a bit like a new car being released onto the market or a young sports star coming into a team and threatening to dislodge someone who has been a mainstay of the side for years. However, times change and we’re being increasingly forced to change with them, especially as we move deeper and deeper into the “smartphone generation” and new technologies make our lives simpler and in many cases more stylish.


The youngsters of today want everything at their fingertips and they want it there within seconds and why wouldn’t they? After all, it’s all they’ve ever known. Many of today’s teenagers won’t remember the pains of dial-up Internet connections which would render your landline phone (remember those) obsolete until you disconnected. They certainly won’t remember a time before social networking sites like Facebook and now they’re even downloading books from the eBooks by Sainsbury’s website and similar web pages as opposed to walking into their local, traditional bookshop and paying for a paperback copy of the same text.


This begs the question, has technology taken over such a huge proportion of life in 2014 that eBooks have now replaced the traditional print titles? The answer, increasingly, is looking like being a simple ‘yes.’ Let me explain.


If you were to walk into a library, either in your local town or your University campus, the chances are that you would be doing so in order to find a book on a certain topic to help you to understand your coursework or just for a bit of light reading. This was relatively simple, you look for the genre or the author and, using the Dewey decimal system, you would be able to locate it with the help of a computer search.


Today, however, people are going into libraries and almost expecting there to be somewhere to plug in their eReaders so they can download a copy of that same title (that they assume has never been released in paperback form) and they can be reading it within seconds. This has forced libraries to adapt quicker than they may have anticipated and, while many titles will have been available in electronic format, the shelves are being left filled with increasingly dusty paper copies that are looking more like relics you would see in a museum exhibit and librarians are starting to feel the strain associated with disgruntled visitors who can’t get their hands (as such) on an electronic copy of the book and they’re forced to take away a paper copy…oh the horror!


Then take a look at today’s classrooms. Youngsters are being taught using tablet computers or sitting at their desks using laptops instead of writing using a pen and paper. While this undoubtedly will improve their computer skills – which are becoming more and more important in the modern day – it shows that even teachers are moving away from print in favour of electronic alternatives. Soon the days of carrying five different textbooks to your lessons will be a thing of the past and they will be carrying them all on one lightweight device. So no more movie scenes where a couple meet when a clumsy guy knocks the books from a girl’s hands!


Publishers have made no secret of the fact that sales of traditional print titles have dropped over the past few years, with an article released by the BBC stating that printed book sales fell by £98m in 2013, a decline of 6.5% from 2012, and Publishers Weekly revealed that between 2010 and 2012, printed book sales dropped by just under 16%. The demand for eBooks has been blamed for this, along with a general decline in interest in literature, but you have to feel as though the sales in electronic books – which have flattened over the past few years since a peak around 2013 – are going to continue to replace the traditional paperbacks with more and more libraries and classrooms featuring electronic literature and materials. It’s a shame for traditionalists, but a sign that we need to move with the times – even if it is sooner than many of us would have liked. We can’t slow down the advancements in technology, we just have to adapt our preferences.

3 years ago

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