Group blog post – Section D2 (Jessica, Megna, Tiffany, Fole, Wilson): Books and print media; the advantages and problems of digitization

When it comes to books and print media, print isn’t dead. Over 90% of American consumers still read magazines and books sales rose 11% last year. It isn’t dead, yet, but it is on the decline compared to the boom in digitized print media. There was a 204% increase in e-book sales and 60% of consumers in the US plan to purchase an e-book reader in the next three years. American consumers have chosen their side on the digitization debate. Likewise, in our opinion, the advantages of digitization make it a clear choice over print media.

The advantages are numerous, but the main ones are portability, accessibility, and interactivity. E-readers, such as the iPad, Kindle, and Nook, are portable and allow you to carry as many books as they can hold and some even allow you to access the internet which houses even more reading material. The “books” on e-readers can incorporate different forms of media, making the learning experience much more interactive with videos and pictures. The availability of books is also increased due to the nature of the e-bookstore, which has no geographical limitations. So, as long as you have internet access, there is no need to drive to bookstore and pick up a physical book, just download new releases or classics immediately.

E-readers also benefit specific groups of people- authors, researchers, and the visually impaired. Independent authors benefit greatly from the shift to digitizing literature, because they are now able to get their work seen, without having a publisher or a book on the shelves of a bookstore. Researchers also benefit greatly due to the ability to search through text using a computer, rather than flip through pages of text looking for relevant information. Those who are blind, or have trouble reading standard sized print benefit from audio versions of the books available with e-readers and the ability to increase the font size of any book on their reader with one touch.

With so many advantages, the only disadvantages stem from the inability to access this technology, e-readers, or the internet. The cost and the need for some technical knowledge can exclude some people who have the ability to access physical books, but not digital versions. Also, given the nature of the e-reader, battery life does affect its use.

We have to wonder though, when we digitize books and print media, is anything lost? Is the information the same no matter what context? Can the feeling associated with print material, the ability to pick up a book off a shelf or at a bookstore and flip its pages be fully recreated digitally with an e-bookstore, a virtual bookshelf, and a page flip animation? In this transitory stage between print and digital media, we may not know the answers to these questions, but the answers may come to define digital natives as a populous who may become as comfortable curling up with a good e-book as their parents were with a book.

1. Can you imagine a world in which print doesn’t exist?
2. Is anything lost when you digitize print?
3. What is gained when you digitize print?
4. Do you feel this trend (digital outpacing print) will continue?
5. If this trend does continue, will it increase the technology gap between those who use technology and those who don’t?

“Is print dead? (Is it really?)[INFOGRAPHIC]” Penn Olson. 1 Sept. 2010.
Penn Olson. 3 Oct. 2010..

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