In 2011, the popular book store Borders filed for bankruptcy and many news articles pondered if this was the beginning of the end for the printed word. In 2015, the largest Christian bookstore (FCS) also filed for bankruptcy. However, the battle between traditional books and non-traditional books is far from being over.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 20 percent of American’s have read an e-book. In fact, the average e-book reader completes 24 books within a year. Research has found that e-book readers are also avid traditional book readers and many major companies, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, offer e-books for sale with instant digital access. Other open source projects, such as Project Gutenberg, started offering free e-books back in the 1970’s. They currently offer almost 50,000 free public domain e-books. There are also many smart phone apps that offer free e-book downloads. While there is ongoing debate about e books, their condensed reading format means more readers, and a greater space for the written word.
About 10 percent of Americans prefer to listen to audiobooks today. Gone are the days when consumers had to purchase tapes or CDs to listen to their favorite book. Major companies, such as Amazon and Audible, offer audiobooks for sale online. In addition, open source projects such as Librivox, offer almost 9,000 free public domain audiobooks. Librivox is unique because volunteers around the world record all of the digital audiobook content. Audiobooks are convenient for busy adults who can easily listen to anything, anywhere, through their smartphone or tablet.
Libraries and bookstores were previously the only source of accessing printed material, but today the internet and new technology have made books available to be read anytime, anywhere. Consumers can now choose from using their smart phone, tablet, e-reader, and laptop to access and read books. Instead of carrying a heavy hardback book on the bus, anyone can simply read a book while also listening to music and engaging in social media through their smart phone. Technology has made books universally accessible through different platforms and fundamentally changed the way we see the written word.
Most people assume libraries are a dying public service, but according to a recent CNN report, libraries are not dying, but evolving with the changing world. In fact, there has been an increase in the use of public libraries in the last 10 years. For example, the Seattle Public Library receives more than seven million visitors every year. Libraries now also offer e-books and audiobooks for download as well as free Wi-Fi for easy research. Libraries are making a comeback by offering additional services and evolving with technology, and more and more people are getting education in library science. A Masters in library science is an excellent way to contribute to your community and still take part in the digital age.
Technology may have changed how we access printed material, but books are here to stay.
Article by Brooke Chaplan