Print or electronic? Both offered at library

Jennifer Kasch, Librarian

Recently the book world has witnessed a surprising trend, a decrease in e-book sales and e-book reader ownership and a preference amongst many students for print books.

As a student, which do you prefer to use? The Madison College Libraries offer some books in print and others electronically to accommodate both preferences.

According to the Pew Research Center, e-book reader ownership dropped among adults ages 18-29 from 28 percent to 18 percent from 2014 to 2015. E-book sales were also down 11.1 percent during the first three quarters of 2015, according to the Association of American Publishers.

In Naomi Baron’s 2015 book entitled “Words Onscreen,” she cites a 2013 survey she conducted asking: “If the cost were identical, in which medium would you prefer to do reading?” Of respondents in the United States, 89 percent stated that they’d prefer hardcopy for schoolwork and only 11 percent responded that they’d prefer digital screen.

As a librarian, I hear many reasons for a print preference. Some prefer print so they can easily mark up the margins with notes and observations. Print books are easy to lend to a friend. They never need to have their battery charged. It may be easier to remember the approximate page or section where something appeared in a print book. Some just like the new (or old) book smell and the feel of a print book in their hands.

There are, however, some reasons and specific circumstances in which individuals prefer electronic books. e-books can be accessed from home or anywhere with an internet connection. So, if you’re doing some last minute research from home when the library is closed, e-books might be preferable. You can often search e-book text quickly for a particular word or phrase. Also, e-books lighten your backpack and take up less space on a bookshelf.

Whatever your preference, print or electronic, we have you covered.

When you perform a search from our library homepage, there in a limiter box for “type” where you can select book or e-book amongst other material types. Print books can be checked out at our library service desks with a OneCard or another valid form of photo ID.

We can also get many print books sent to our libraries from outside our system, if you’re not finding what you’re looking for in our collection, through a service called interlibrary loan. You will be prompted to login to view our e-books when you’re off-campus with your Madison College username and password.

Whether the trend back towards print continues or not, we will be ready with resources in a variety of formats to support a variety of learning styles and preferences.