Photo illustration by Joe Rudko//AS Review

There is an influx of e-readers, or electronic reading devices, such as Nooks and Kindles taking over the literary circuit, leaving real, tangible, books and literature on the shelves.

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group, 11 percent of U.S adults own a tablet computer of some kind, and 77 percent of them use the tablet every day; only 17 percent of them read books on the device.

 The differences between these two types of reading materials are vast and have affected society - particularly students, bookstores and authors - in many ways.

Heather Wrenn, a senior at Western, uses a Kindle. The e-reader was a gift from her mother at the beginning of fall quarter. Wrenn, a business administration and psychology major, uses her Kindle for textbooks and pleasure reading.

“You have multiple books at your fingertips,” Wrenn said. “Not to mention, I’ve never come across something that costs more money on a Kindle.”

Using a Kindle instead of textbooks lightens her load and helps her save money, Wrenn said. In terms of purchasing actual books anymore, she only has to buy real books when they are not available for Kindle.

The major downside for Kindle, Wrenn said, was that it is hard to share Kindle books unless the other person has a Kindle.
When choosing between e-readers or real books, Western’s Wilson Library Reference Librarian Paul Piper’s preference was books.

“I use both, and I guess I still like books as objects,” Piper said.

His preference could change, Piper said, as the e-reader devices evolve and more books become available on them.

Piper said the books available for purchase on e-readers are inexpensive, costing about $9 or $10 through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google Books, for example.

Certain older books, are usually cheaper and sometimes free.

For another perspective on the e-reader phenomenon, Pam Beason, a Bellingham author, explained her thoughts.

“Personally, I love physical books so it disturbs me to see a lot of the shelf space going away and the availability of those physical books, too,” Beason said. “I have very mixed emotions about it.”

Beason, who lives in Bellingham, favors books as a reader, citing factors such as the covers of actual books and the ability to recollect words on printed pages.

“My brain is trained to the printed page; it’s easier to remember, ‘Oh, I read something about that two pages back,’ and scroll back and find it physically,” Beason said. “Somehow, it’s easier for me to remember things off a printed page in a traditional book than it is to read things from, what is in essence, a computer screen.”

Because they have a certain convenience in size and capabilities, Beason said she does plan to purchase an e-reader but  is waiting until after the holiday season when reviews have come out. Beason said she also values the market of e-readers as an author.

After publishing four e-books, Beason said she appreciates how easy it is to have her books self-published online. The traditional publishing business moves at a “glacial speed, “ she said, so it’s beneficial to put an e-book online and start making money right away.

For a librarian and an author, the prevalence of literature being digitized directly affects their professions, but as a consumer, one must take into account their own reading preferences – on a screen or on a page.