Digital vs Audio vs Printed Materials

With owning a Kindle Fire HD, laptop, 2 tablets and a smartphone, I can access digital copies of books purchased on or any other website that offers e-books for my reading pleasure. Audio books do not interest me and when my eyes become tired or the price is cheaper, printed, bound books are for me.

Hardbound, printed books

Printed materials have been around for an extremely long period of time. In fact, the 1st American-printed book was issued in 1536.

Audio Books

The 1st audio recording was conducted by Thomas Edison in 1877. Edison thoughts on creating “phonographic books” was to assist the visually impaired.

(“The phonograph at home reading out a novel.” From Daily Graphic (New York), April 2, 1878. Less than a year after the invention of the phonograph, this drawing offered a future vision. Novels however would remain impractical for phonographs until the 1930s.)

Digital materials/e-books

The earliest e-book was made in 1993 on 2 floppy disks by Peter James who published the thriller Host. Further research revealed that this particular book was not exactly the first e-book. Arguments state that Project Gutenberg has been going since 1971 and even in the 1980s during the CD-Rom revolution, reference materials like encyclopedias were being made into electronic editions. Therefore, society was able to read materials in a digital manner on their desktop computers. In terms, of e-readers, users now have the ability to carry printed material around in the form of a smartphone, Kindle and any other technological device they may possess. The first generation of e-readers came out in 1998. That’s only a mere 18 years ago. There are now various media platforms that not only share e-books with users but will also assist with helping a user to locate a lost and/or ancient edition of a book that cannot be found in stores and/or online.

But alas, there are still many individuals like myself who prefer the fresh smell of a printed book over the screen glare of an e-book. An article in The Washington Post even stated that millennial’s even prefer a printed book over an e-book. Why? Some answers stemmed from the time it takes to actually read materials that are in print versus those in digital format. In digital format, the tendency of being distracted and/or skimming the material is apparent. Whereas, when holding an actual bound matter, one is more likely to take the time to read and make notes in margins. When in a digital form, one can take notes but it appears to be more time consuming, especially when you need to retrieve said notes.

A Pew Research study from 2014 showed that college students purchasing books for the small semester purchased 87% of their books in a printed format.

We may be progressing towards a full onslaught of a total digital world, but there are still many old and young who show and spend money on what matters to them most. Otherwise, libraries would cease to exist in addition to people owning bookshelves full of books.

(Once again, thank you to B.C. for assisting in alleviating the brain freeze one was forced to overcome. 🙂 )





4 thoughts on “Digital vs Audio vs Printed Materials

  1. This is such a great thought. When it comes to printed media verses online media would you say there is a difference between getting the news and leisure content like reading a book. Something like a newspaper might not survive the rise of emerging media because of the time it takes to get it printed. Now, books on the other hand, I am on the same page as you. There is nothing like hold a hard back book and turning the pages to see what will happen next.

    Here a couple of articles that analyze the survival of the printed newspaper.


  2. This was a great post!!! It is amazing at all the different options an individuals has available to read a book now. I feel that the number of students downloading e-books will only increase over the next few years because it is a lot easier carrying a tablet with everything you need on it. Keep up the great work!!!


  3. I still prefer to read novels in print, so I’m glad to see I’m not alone. But as content becomes king on the Internet, there’s always the question of how much of it people actually read. The answer? Typically, just about 20% of what’s on the page. Now that’s a bit disheartening for some communicators, but the key is to give the consumers what they’re looking for in that 20%. How can we do that? Use bulleted lists, subheads and short paragraphs that cater to users’ preferred “F” eye-tracking pattern online.

    Liked by 1 person

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