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Traditional print still reigns over e-books, audiobooks

The majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll prefer traditional print books over e-book and audiobooks.

Nearly two-thirds—64 percent—prefer print books, compared with 27 percent who chose e-books and 8 percent for audiobooks.

Traditional print editions still outsell digital versions, but publishing experts say a major shift is under way. E-books have grown from less than 1 percent of the trade market share in 2008 to 6.4 percent in 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers.

In the first 10 months of 2011, e-book sales rose 131 percent while many print categories declined. And in the last week of December, driven by holiday sales of dedicated e-readers and tablets such as the iPad and new Kindle Fire, e-books outsold print editions for 42 of the top 50 titles on the USA Today bestseller list.

A plurality—41 percent—of poll respondents who have an e-reader or tablet use the Amazon Kindle, followed by 26 percent for the Apple iPad and 15 percent for the Barnes & Noble Nook.
More than 650 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 16 and 17.

What book format do you prefer: print, e-book or audiobook?
Print: 64%
E-book: 27%
Audiobook: 8%

If you read e-books, what device do you use?
Amazon Kindle: 41%
Apple iPad: 26%
Barnes & Noble Nook: 15%
Desktop/laptop computer: 8%
Kobo eReader: 1%
Other: 10%

COMMENTS:

I like to share books by passing them on to others. Also, it’s hard to look back and find specific passages in an e-book.
—Art Maurer, Penfield

I use all three formats; it’s situational. For many day-to-day applications, I use print. When commuting and traveling long distance by auto, I use audiobooks. I am using my e-book for most new books that I want to read. I have a moderately sized home library and have hopes of finding time to read many of the books there in the future. The beauty of the varied formats is having the ability to choose the format that meets the needs of the occasion. I feel fortunate to have these choices and the ability to read wherever I want to and to use my time productively.
—Andrea Jacobs Gallagher, Xerox Corp.

I only use e-books for company training; it’s the company format. If I went to e-books, it would most likely be for air travel. I would never take an e-book to the beach. I like the look and feel of a physical book—and books warm up most rooms.
—Leslie Apetz

I will always love my “real” books—but for my motorcycle travels, nothing beats the ease of ordering and carrying so many books in one small package as my Kindle.
—Patti Heveron, Heveron & Heveron CPAs

I have a long commute to and from work so also listen to a lot of audiobooks. They are so entertaining when read by a good narrator; the drive passes surprisingly quickly.
—Debby Emerson, Central New York Library Resources Council

I realize that I will likely be in the minority, but paper books just flat-out feel better. Additionally, they will still be on my shelf long after that particular e-book reader (fill in name of hot product) becomes obsolete in, say, one year. How are those Atari games workin’ for ya? Here are five ways that paper books are better than e-books: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/5_ways_that_paper_books_are_better_than_ebooks.php.
—Holly Anderson, Breast Cancer Coalition

I read all three types of formats in different settings. E-books are perfect for traveling. I carried 19 books to China in a device weighing 9 ounces. But in the car, audiobooks keep me well-read and make drive time productive time. Traditional print will always be important for the visual and tactile dimensions. I’m planning a trip to South Africa now, and leafing through the breathtaking photography in my large-format coffee table books inspires me in a way that doesn’t happen on my little Kindle or even my iPad.
—Jocelyn Goldberg-Schaible, Rochester Research Group

I just enjoy a printed book; I can mark it, highlight, bend a page—it works for me.
—Mike Hennessy, Open Door Mission

The price of e-books is still too high in many cases to justify their purchase. I regularly borrow library e-books and have found sites like Project Gutenberg that have books that are free (or very low-cost) and frequently out of print.
—J. Roby-Davison

I use all three, depending on where I am reading: print books at home, audiobooks in the car and e-books when I travel. Technology allows me to read more often, more easily and in more places.
—Susan Schultz Laluk

For casual or must-have immediately, e-books work well, but printed books serve me better when there is need to highlight, make marginal notes and cross reference.
—Roy Kiggins, retired, Seneca Falls

All it will take is one nuke detonated 200 miles above our continent and Kindles, computers and all electronic equipment will be useless. A real to goodness book may not last forever, but at least after some evil genius’s EMP attack, you can read a book, magazine or newspaper by candlelight. There just is nothing like turning paper pages.
—Michael Kloppel

There’s nothing like holding onto a cherished first-edition book, possibly signed by the author in your hands and feeling the age and significance of the history of the whole event, comparing this to a Kindle or iPad is apples and oranges. Since most of us don’t have the resources to collect and create our own library, you can’t beat having a portal into the complete works of mankind at your fingertips via an e-book, the only thing worse is not being able to read them at all.
—Joe Wierzbowski, Plymouth Photo Studio

I consume information in a variety of formats, even old-fashioned word of mouth.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, president, Phinney Rankin Inc.

While I read the electronic version of the D&C from my laptop when I am traveling and I read a lot of my news from my iPhone on a daily basis, I still prefer the hard copy to read from, and that includes books and other correspondence, as well.
—Grant Osman 
Why do people prefer one medium vs. another? Is there a demographic piece to this question? For example, do readers under the age of 20 prefer digital formats vs. over the age of 20 print formats?
—K. Simon, G-S Supplies Inc.

I can take a book camping or to nature and don’t need to plug in and waste energy. A book can last a hundred years or is recyclable. Much greener option. People need to unplug more.
—Karl Schuler

There is nothing like the look and feel of a real book, one that can sit on your side table or book shelf and remind you of its presence or where you were in life when you read it. Somehow to me, print seems alive: e-books seem strangely dead and essentially invisible, nothing to remind you that you ought to get on with reading the book.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

Even though I love my Nook, e-books do have limitations. As an adult learner, I have tried using e-book textbooks and found it more difficult to find what I need when I need it. Let’s hope a combination of e-books, print and audio remain available—one size does not fit all!
—Linda Gallagher, MVP Health Care

My vote is for audio book, because I drive the Thruway often. I still prefer the traditional feel of a hardcover book over modern technology. As long as people enjoy reading, I think they’re all good!
—Vinny Dallo

For "real" reading, I still want a real book. For anything else though, I love my Kindle Fire! The concept of being able to do a quick demo of our helpdesk and service management software anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice cannot be underestimated.
—Richard Stevenson, co-founder and CEO, CobbleSoft International

Both my wife and I are reading Nooks, and they’re great! Many thanks to my business partner for suggesting the switch from hardcover!
—Lou Calarese, Applied Audio & Theatre Supply

All three forms have a place, for example, audio books are great for listening to while jogging or driving. One of the main reasons e-books have grown so popular is that you can carry hundreds of books around on a Kindle or iPad. The nice thing about the iPad is that you can do a thousand other things with it when you get tired of reading, but the Kindle is the only one you can read outside in sunlight.
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester

After trying digital versions of books, I returned to printed versions. Printed versions allow better overview over the content and leisurely working back and forth over several pages. This is important in my research work. The different formats should not be put into competition, but everyone should be welcome to choose their preferred choice at the proper time and occasion. After writing a lengthy manuscript or letter, I find that only after a print-out will I find major or minor errors. Of course, I use spell-check, but it does not catch certain other problems. My business depends on the best writing and least “dumb” spelling and grammatical errors.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting

As a lifelong reader, I love books and everything about them. My house is full of them, and there’s nothing better on a cold, blustery day than to curl up on the sofa with a hardcover book. That said, I love the convenience and portability of my Nook, which I bring with me everywhere I go. Although 90 percent of my reading is now done on my Nook, I can’t bring myself to read classics in anything but hardcover—nor do I want to. There’s still something about the aesthetic experience of touching a book and turning the pages that can’t be replaced by the convenience of an e-reader. So I’ll take the best of both!
— R. Canley, Fairport

Most of my reading is now digital; mainly thru my iPad – although some reading is via my iPhone or at my notebook PC. A few examples: D&C (RocNow is a bad example, it’s a design and difficult to use); USA Today (great-easy to use); The Daily (fantastic); Wall Street Journal; FlipBoard (fantastic); Fluent News, Sky Grid; AP; and many trade publications either through an app or website; plus the many emailed newsletters. Easy to use. Portable (easier to carry an iPad or iPhone than a stack of magazines/newspapers), and it makes my recycling bin lighter. I wish RBJ’s digital publication was easier to use—it’s awkward.
—Brian Hegedorn, Webster

I find it much more pleasant to read a book, feel the physical presence, turn pages, than to read e-books. For some reason, it is more relaxing to me, no matter the seriousness or depth of book content.
—Lisa Dahl

My wife gave me the Kindle Fire for Christmas. I was hesitant about using an e-reader but have changed my mind completely. I absolutely love it. One of the greatest benefits is using it for travel. I’m currently reading the Steve Jobs book, which in print form is 656 pages. I would never carry a book that large with me in my carry-on or laptop bag but in an e-book form, it is no problem.
—Jeff Fasoldt, Toshiba Business Solutions

I’m trying to embrace new technology, but the process of digitizing books leaves a lot to be desired. Many books I’ve purchased have so many errors, directly attributed to that process, that I’ve requested and received refunds for them. Until they fix it, I will not buy any more.
—Craig Shaw, Stratus Imaging

Most of the books I read are e-books. I live in Fairport and work in Buffalo. Being mobile makes me need e-books. I just can’t carry a library of books around or find a lot of time visiting bookstores and libraries. However, I love books, libraries and bookstores. I hope they continue to be available. I would love to see bookstores find a way to sell e-books.
—Steve Vaughn

Really audio and e-books. Audio are great for the car, etc., and e-books are great for flights, reading in bed, etc.
—Devon Michaels, Chili

1/20/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

 

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