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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Ebook Reading on the Rise, Printed Books on the Decline

Mashable shared an article on a month-long study which found more Americans readers, ages 16 and older, are embracing e-readers. The number of traditional readers dropped from 72% to 67% from last year, while digital bookworms jumped from 16% to 23%. While two thirds still read paper books, trends show ebook reading on the rise.


photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc

“These data show that the process of book reading is shifting,” Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie recently wrote. “The rise of e-reading devices has major implications that are affecting the publishing industry and eventually could affect the way knowledge is packaged and the way ideas are spread.”

I recently met with Dr. John Barge, the Georgia School Superintendent and his curriculum specialist Dr. Mike Buck and discussed this issue. They feel that Georgia schools are likely ten years away from seeing e-books take over traditional text books, but they see it coming. It inevitably would spare schools costs and the books could be updated easily when they’re electronic. Makes sense.

Broader e-reader and tablet ownership fuels the increased popularity of digital novels. Compared to the results from a phone survey conducted in May 2010, the percentage of individuals who own either a tablet or e-book reader increased from 6% to 33% in November 2012, according to Pew’s latest trend report.

Libraries across the nation that recognize the trend are building e-book collections. This summer, two New York City public library systems partnered up with Penguin Group and electronic-book distributor 3M to distribute nearly 15,000 digital titles, according to a Wall Street Journal report. About 31% of national public libraries currently offer e-books, compared to 2011’s 24%. Digital book rentals at the library have increased from 3% to 5% in a year.

Have you replaced print books with digital editions? Tell me why or why not.


  1. Manfred on January 18, 2013 at 5:51 am

    I’m reading three books, two magazines, & the Bible, concurrently, as the mood changes. It’s much easier to access all of those on a tablet than carry four books & several issues of a magazine. Plus, the magazines offer more content in digital format than the associated print edition.

    • Tim Elmore on January 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

      So true. I love the advantages of digital. It does make some tasks possible, or at least much easier, that were difficult with physical copies.

  2. Marc Mousseau on January 18, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Unfortunatley, reading books will become old fashioned. I recently read “Valley Forge” on my iPad and realized that the the visual progess of completing the book was missing. When I read “Atlas Shrugged” (all 1168 pages) I knew where I was in the story by how many pages were in my left hand versus my right…. Basically, I knew where I was in the story. With “Valley Forge”, it just ended without any visual clues to how far along I was in the book. Yes, call me old fashioned, but I like paper.

    • Tim Elmore on January 18, 2013 at 11:15 am

      That’s a great point, Marc. There are certainly part of the real book reading experience that can’t be replicated with an ebook. Vinyl records are still around so I don’t see paper disappearing completely. But it may continue to become more of a niche as convenience and low cost win out.

    • Joseph Lalonde on January 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Exactly Marc. There’s just something about paper books!

  3. Juan Carlos García Rex on January 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I love e-books. They are cheaper, easy to get, and I can have 3,000 books in one small tablet!! I literally take my own library everywhere I go. I’m just waiting for E-HABITUDES ; )

    • Tim Elmore on January 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

      There is no doubt, they are more convenient! We made Habitudes for Communicators available on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc. But we still wrestle with whether the ebook creates the experience we want students to have with the Habitudes material.

  4. Jennie VH on January 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Although I see the convenience of the e-book, I still appreciate regular books, especially if their content is something I want to remember. I like to underline, write in the margins and go back for a quick review. E-books seem more temporary. Or, maybe I’m just showing my age. 🙂

    • Joseph Lalonde on January 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Me too Jennie. It’s interesting how the lack of a physical book can change the way we read.

    • Tim Elmore on January 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      It’s true – even though ereaders will let you mark passages, underline and add notes, it’s just not the same as in a real book.

  5. Jack Hart on January 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    While new to e-books, the frustration I’ve had is the lack of page numbers has made footnoting for referencing quotes difficult. So in addition to the reading experience of Marc lacking visual progress, the formatting inhibits research.

    • Tim Elmore on January 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I’ve noticed that too. For informal referencing that works fine but for formal research, it does make it more difficult to cite a source.

  6. Joseph Lalonde on January 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve got mixed feelings about the change from print to electronic books.

    I’m a guy who loves to have a physical product in his hands. I like the feel of the book and the smell. I like being get rid of the book if I don’t like it. With eBooks I don’t have this luxury.

    On the other hand, it’s great to be able to carry around thousands of books with no additional weight. Having my highlighted notes easily accessible on the internet, etc..

    So, while I do get eBooks, I’m not replacing my physical books with them.

    • Tim Elmore on January 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I feel very similar. Ebooks do not provide the exact same experience as printed ones but the convenience of digital is starting to tip the scales that direction. I can only imagine that this trend will continue in the years ahead.

  7. […] The younger generation are opting out for ebooks in favor of their physical books. […]

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Ebook Reading on the Rise, Printed Books on the Decline