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E-readers vs. Books: Has Technology Lost This Time?

In an ever-increasing technological world it seems that many of our bookshelves are shrinking due to the rise of the e-reader. Although resistant at first to venture into the world of virtual libraries, I’ve found that owning a Kindle has had plenty of benefits. Many of the e-book versions of the required books for my English Literature modules were considerably cheaper than their print counterparts; plus, all of the classics are free which was perfect for my Romanticism and Victorian modules. Another useful aspect of my Kindle is that I can click on any word in the text and instantly a definition appears. And of course, the convenience of being able to carry round lots of books on one tiny device rather than lugging a heavy bag to and from campus is a real benefit.

But even with all of these positives it seems that an e-reader library is no competition for our preference to have full bookshelves. Last year it emerged that British consumers spent £2.2 billion on print – a huge amount compared to the £80 million spent on e-books. And this isn’t just down to technophobes not getting along with e-readers. According to a study carried out by The Bookseller, almost three quarters of 16-24 year olds preferred print to e-books.

Another example of e-readers performing worse than print is shown by a study that indicated people who read a print book rather than an e-book had higher plot recall. All of the participants read the same short story, but half read them on e-readers and the other half read print. They were then questioned on the objects, characters and settings found in the story and those who read from print outperformed their e-reader counterparts. 

According to Anne Mangen, a key researcher on the study, this was because holding a physical book has more ‘solidity’ and ‘[the reader has] the tactile sense of progress’ which is lost when reading an e-reader. So perhaps reading from books rather than e-readers or our laptops may be more beneficial when it comes to exams; the ‘solidity’ may mean we take in more of the words and get a better understanding of the contents of the book.

Although I can make notes and bookmark pages on my Kindle, there’s nothing quite like the feel of real pages. I find it much easier to scribble a hasty note in a book or use post-it notes as a mark of reference. And there’s an undeniable element of sentimentality when I look at all of my books lined up on my shelves at home and see the bent spines of my most loved copies. Sure, I’m probably not going to reread Charlotte’s Web or Matilda very soon and it might be a while before I read the Harry Potter series again, but they’re there as visual reminders of my childhood, ready to be picked up and read again whenever I choose.

So, with print books still clearly outdoing their e-rivals, where are the best places to get yours?

Blackwell’s, Portland Building

Blackwell’s sells course related books for every subject studied on University Park as well as a large collection of fiction. Its main advantage has to be its convenient location; situated in the Portland building on campus it’s so easy to pop in and grab that much needed textbook. (Bonus: the in store Costa Coffee.)

Books and Pieces, 19 West End Arcade

This is a second hand bookstore that sells books from a wide range of genres. Many of the books on offer are out of print so it’s a good chance to buy something completely different.

Five Leaves, 14A Long Row

Five leaves is a new bookshop and will be celebrating its first anniversary next month. It is also Nottingham’s first independent general bookshop this century. To coincidence with its anniversary they are hosting a number of special events, which include talks by novelists, poets and singers.

Oxfam Books and Music, 19 Market Street

Whilst this isn’t the place to search for a specific book, it’s a great opportunity to pick up a cheap book and perhaps buy something that you wouldn’t normally. Plus by buying your books there you’d be doing your little bit for charity.

Waterstones, 1-5 Bridlesmith Gate

A list of bookshops would not be complete without the inclusion of Waterstones. Offering thousands of books from every imaginable genre you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Just make sure you don’t end up in the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on which way you look at it!) position of this man…

Edited by Nicole Jones






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A 3rd year English Literature and Language student at the University of Nottingham.
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