Traditional ink books versus e-readers

spauff@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 8, 2012 

Molanda Brown always has a book with her.

“I can take it with me anywhere,” she says, pulling out her smartphone, which has a Kindle app. “At first it took some getting used to. I thought, I can’t do this.” But she likes that she can increase the text size and she doesn’t have to turn on a light to read. Plus, the phone fits into her purse easier than a large hardcover book.

That doesn’t mean she’s stopped buying traditional paper and ink books -- or visiting bookstores.

“She could be in here for eight hours,” said her sister Karen, as they browsed the tables at Barnes and Noble. Molanda also visits the library regularly and said she didn’t think she’d ever stop coming to libraries or bookstores.

“I soak up the experience, It’s the knowledge,” she said. “You walk in and might see something that changes you.”

2011 saw a growth in the popularity of ebooks and ereaders and the closing of the chain bookstore Borders, but don’t give up on traditional brick and mortar stores yet. Alek Ansley, who runs Judy Bugs, a family-owned bookstore on Broadway, said the atmosphere of bookstores attracts people. He sees it in his own store.

“Usually I have someone walk in and they say, ‘Wow, a real bookstore.’” If customers want help finding a book, Ansley -- who describes himself as a “very gregarious person” -- said he usually asks them what they normally read and what was the last really good book that they read.

Bookstores are also a place where people like to spend time browsing.

“Bookstores are notorious time wasters. Go into Barnes and Noble and you see people wandering around. It kills time,” he said. “Bookstores will always be popular places.”

Shirley Stanford has an iPad that she reads mysteries on -- she’s a particular fan of Sue Grafton novels -- but she also goes to Barnes and Noble to meet with friends and drink coffee.

“It’s both the coffee and the books. It’s the combination,” she said.

There are some advantages to reading on an iPad, like being able to read at night, she said. But she also likes holding a physical book and turning the pages.

“Eventually everything will be online,” she said. “It makes me sad.”

Maci Griffith, 21, came into Barnes and Noble with a friend who was looking for The Hunger Games trilogy. Griffith said she does most of her reading these days on a Nook.

“I don’t buy books except off that,” she said, adding that it’s cheaper for her to get electronic textbooks for school than to spend money on paper and ink versions. “Our generation is so used to using computers, it’s second nature.”

Not everyone is a convert to ereading just yet.

Mary and Rob St. Clair, visiting from Columbus, Ohio, said they read a little bit of everything, she said -- fiction, non-fiction, historicals, bestsellers, zombie books. Rob keeps a list of every book he’s read since 1971, alternating between fiction and non-fiction and rating each book on a five-star scale. His favorites include Prince of Tides and Watership Down. He only got halfway through Twilight before casting it aside.

“I read a lot of reviews. I typically look at the bestsellers,” he said.

They also enjoy visiting libraries and bookstores. Rob has a waiting list of books to check out at his library back home.

While they own an iPad, they haven’t tried reading books on it yet.

“I like to have the book in my lap and turn pages,” Rob said.

Molanda said even though she’s gotten used to reading books on her phone, she’s noticed some differences in her reading experience. She reads ebooks faster, but she’s able to recall information better if it is a paper and ink book.

“If something captures my attention, I can find it better in a book,” she said.

Molanda said she will always buy books and hopes that physical bookstores never go away.

“I really and truly hope not. You might see something that might capture your attention when you come to visit the bookstore and buy books.”

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469

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