E-books growing in popularity at home, in school

Posted December 7, 2012

School of Communication
University of Miami

Erika Forbes is enjoying the classic book, “Pride and Prejudice,” but instead of turning the page in the traditional book, she is sliding to the next page. This is the new age of reading a book.

According to an article on dailytech.com by Tiffany Kaiser, one in five American adults read at least one e-book per year. The article states that 15 percent more of Americans are reading e-books on a regular basis than they were two years ago; there was also 21 percent increase within the previous year in February 2012.

The Kindle Fire (Photo by Emma Reyes).

The Kindle Fire (Photo by Emma Reyes).

The article also stated that e-book readers are more likely to be under the age of 50 and have some college education. Forty-five percent of people preferred e-books while a 43 percent preferred traditional books.

With e-books on the rise, bookstores are taking a hit. Borders closed its doors in July of 2011 because it could not keep up with the popularly of Amazon and even Barnes & Noble. According to an article by Josh Sanburn, “5 Reasons Borders Went Out of Business (and What Will Take Its Place),” the bookstore did put in the work for the change that was going on in this industry.

It was late to the web and e-books sales. Its web was not a working site and when it came to e-books, the bookstore did not look into an e-book store until the trend was popular by Amazon with its Kindle and Barnes & Noble with its Nook.

Forbes, 30, clinical program coordinator and UM alum, did not decide on her own to go with the e-book trend, the Kindle Fire, but now that she has the tablet she likes all of its features.

“I was skeptical at first, but now I have gotten used to it and can see what the “hype” was all about,” she said.

“The ability to read books, share with friends, convenience, especially for travel, no need to carry multiple books just one light weight mini computer.”

Forbes also likes that she can download free books. The Kindle has a tab that allows users to download free books that are the “most popular classics”, such as “Les Misèrables,”  “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Pride and Prejudice.”

In a study by Pew Internet & American Life Project, the Kindle Fire is on the rise. Since the introduction of the Amazon tablet in late 2011, the market share grew from five percent in mid-December of last year to 14 percent in mid-January.

However, this trend of e-books is climbing with schools as well. Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, a private Roman Catholic high school in Miami, began an iPad program this year. The students have been using the iPads since the beginning of the 2012 school year in mid-August.

Assistant Principal for Student Affairs at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Annie O. Sanchez, explained in an e-mail that the school made the switch because the school was looking to go into a one-to-one digital program for some time and wanted to do something different.

“With the availability of apps available on the iPad, we decided that [it] would be the best choice. Also, other area high schools were embarking on the same challenge, so we figured it was time for us to get on board as well.”

She also explained how some of the teachers are more comfortable than others, but that the switch has been embraced by all.

“[They] are excited about finding new ways to teach their subjects. Some teachers feel the iPads are distracting to the students, especially the younger ones, who may have a more difficult time staying on task, but all [the teachers] are learning new ways to keep students engaged and on task,” she said.

However, the response from the students has been a hit. According to Sanchez, this is so because the students are part of a digital age and the iPads provide them with easy access to most of their textbooks and other school related work such as class notes and multimedia presentations that they may need for class.

Cristina Sanz, junior at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, is all for the switch in her high school not only because of the easiness of carrying one device and having all she needs in it but also because she is learning more about how to be technology savvy.

“I feel as if I have learned more about technology, in other words, I feel more technologically advanced,” she said. “All in all, I feel that iPads are more useful because I have all that I need in one device.”

Although the trend is on the rise, there are those people who still want to keep using traditional books. According to the study, 88 percent of people with e-books have also read traditional books in the past 12 months. E-readers are more likely to buy the book they are reading instead of borrowing it and prefer to buy books.

Two UM seniors, Grant Bonnier and Alejandra Madrid, believe that traditional books will not go away completely even though they are also in the trend of iPads and e-readers.

“Nothing can replace the smell and the touch of a book,” said Bonnier.

Madrid agrees with him saying no device can beat the relationship a reader has with his or her book.

“There’s just a relationship with a hard copy book and its reader that an electronic version could never offer. Plus you can’t beat the smell of a brand new,” she said.

Forbes feels the same way although she is into the trend of using her Kindle anywhere she goes, she still finds something special about a book and to her that means a lot.

“My heart and passion is still reading a physical book.”

Sanchez from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy added that although the switch in the high school is going well, there will be an evaluation to check how the new approach has affected the learning environment.

“I think, as is the case with new approaches, there is a bit of a learning curve. At the end of the year, we will be better able to assess how the iPads changed the learning environment.”

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