E-Books Versus Print: The Debate Continues

The Allure of Print

Now that we are able to do so much online, it can seem like print books are no longer useful. They’re heavy. They get dusty. They weigh down your backpack and fill up your locker.

Why lug those things around when you can read almost anything on a screen now? There are e-books, digital databases, online textbooks. La Presse recently stopped printing a daily paper (except on Saturdays). Now, the best way to access it is through its app, which the Toronto Star is also using.

But the allure of holding an actual book in your hands is one that tablets and laptops can’t duplicate. Books are tactile objects that you can touch and smell. You can fold the pages over and write in the margins.

People still love books. E-book sales are down, and sales of second-hand books are up. University students continue to prefer textbooks in print – even when they’re given the electronic version for free. They find that it is easier to focus on a physical textbook, it is easier to highlight, and there is less chance of distraction. And research shows that a well-stocked home library improves children’s academic achievement across the globe, regardless of their socio-economic status or the country they live in.

A solid 21st century school library should offer a combination of books, e-books, and databases to provide students with the information they need. As a librarian, not only do I believe that print and digital resources can peacefully co-exist, but that they complement each other. There are times, like when you’re standing on the metro or crammed into an airplane seat, that e-books just make more sense. But then there are other times, like a rainy day when you’re curled up with a cup of tea, when only a real book will do.

– Laura Sanders, LibrarianLaura_Sanders

Laura Sanders, the Head Librarian at Lower Canada College, received her Master of Library and Information Science from McGill University in 2013. She taught English Literature abroad for four years and enjoys reading in both print and digital formats.

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