The first eBook was made available in July 1971 and published as Part of Project Gutenburg. Started by Michael Hart, the project sought to bring books to the masses by electronically publishing copyright free classic works. This project continues and eBooks have been with us ever since.
Growth in eBook readership took off with the arrival of eReaders. Portable electronic devices make it possible to carry hundreds of titles in a pocket book sized PC. eReaders also allow users to digitally browse seemingly endless shelves without the need to leave their houses (or even couches).
As interest in eBooks grew, so too did the number of articles proclaiming the death of the physical book and bookstores. Yet given all the advantages of eBooks, the paperback and hardback book endures. Readers can still be seen pouring from libraries and bookstores with arms full of books and overloaded book bags that better resemble boat anchors.
So where are we now? Has the eBook peaked and are books like records, back in fashion?
We wanted to find out more so we put a few questions to the TAFE Queensland Library Team.
1. If you were given the choice to read your favourite authors new book as an eBook or in hardcover, what would you choose?
Minou Yuille, Ipswich: Probably hardcover – I spend a lot of my time looking at screens (both by choice and necessity), and if I can it’s nice to read a physical book.
Jackie Schick, Caboolture: When it comes to novels I always prefer reading hardcovers. For manga (and other graphic novels) I prefer reading the eBook version. I will shamelessly purchase both if it is something that I really like.
2. Do you read eBooks and physical books, or do you only read one format, and why?
Anne Davis, Southport: Nearly entirely eBooks on kindle… I only read the rare physical book that I can’t get on my kindle.
Chris Norlander, Mooloolaba: Both. If I’m travelling eBooks are great. Lightweight and easy to lug a tonne of titles around with me. Otherwise paperback.
3. Why do you think that some readers cannot make the switch to eBooks?
Chris Norlander, Mooloolaba: There’s just something about having the 'thing' itself. I think there’s a kind of nostalgia you develop for the story and the object you don’t get with something digital.
Naomi McAnalen, Loganlea: Lack of understanding/technology skills. There's often no training for these devices, it's very much self-help. For those that are not even computer savvy, this is too much to bother with. Plus the cost of technology on top of the cost of eBooks.
4. Do you see a future where there are only eBooks available?
Chris Hunt, Mooloolaba: Not in the immediate future, and hopefully not in my lifetime, but eventually yes because everything will be done online – no writing, no paper etc.
Chris Norlander, Mooloolaba: I love eBooks, they’re so convenient and great for grabbing and digesting snippets of information. They’re really an essential part of the information landscape. That said, if I need to read and understand something well, I’d prefer to do that with a physical book. I don’t think I’m alone thinking that and I don’t think that will ever change.
Let us know your preference by visiting TAFE Queensland Library and checking out a book or eBook today.