Whitney McCoy, HSU Journalism major, enjoys a copy of Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown in Arkansas City, Kansas while on vacation there. | Photo by Whitney McCoy

Have digital books taken over from physical copies?

HSU students weigh in on this week's discussion

While we’re moving more and more into a digital era, it seems there are still a few things we may prefer to consume in an old-fashioned manner. In 2016, the LA Times and Tech Times found that print books still remain more popular than e-books. But by 2020, Times Higher Education stated that while students still prefer physical books to digital, sales of physical copies have declined.

Cash Rion, a journalism major, agrees that each has its own appeal and purpose. However, he much prefers physical books for a few reasons.

“I love the feel of having a physical book in my hand, especially small paperbacks,” Rion said. “There’s no need to go ‘charge’ your book with a physical copy, and they’re easy to read before bed without having all that blue light from a screen keeping you awake.”

Though Rion prefers physical copies for personal reading, he adds there are certainly times when he may opt for a digital copy over a physical one.

“Digital books do have their own appeal,” Rion said. “It’s great being able to have hundreds of books at your fingertips on your phone or tablet, and being able to pick up where you left off so easily! And for textbooks, there’s no need to go lugging around massive tomes as you head from class to the library to study.”

Edward Carpenter, a communication major, also prefers physical books, noting there are things he feels are missing when it comes to digital books.

“I love the crisp sounds of a page turn,” Carpenter said. “I would say that you don’t really get that essence when you are reading a digital copy. In a digital format, I tend to gloss over words without much attention to detail. However, when I’m reading something in print, I tend to have a better comprehension of the message the author is trying to get across to me.”

Emily McCollum, a senior journalism major, feels digital books are trying too hard and prefers reading tactile books — ones she can annotate. McCollum still prefers to buy a physical copy even if a free digital version is available, noting that they are easier to annotate and reflect more of her learning style.

“I just personally have a good attachment to regular bound books,” McCollum said. “I think they smell good, they’re easy on my eyes, and personally, I have very bad vision so looking at a screen for long periods of time wears me out really fast and makes my eyes sore.”

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