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I think that books will continue to win out for a while yet. Electronic devices on which to read books are still too expensive for many people. Books are also harder to destroy than the devices, so schools will likely have to keep using textbooks rather than having classroom sets of e-readers. But that will change as the devices become cheaper and more durable.
They both have their benefits. However, when push comes to shove I believe a hard copy paper book is best, whether hardcover or paperback. Many want ebooks to triumph over actual books, because they use less natural resources. However, they do use energy. I agree with Post #2 that some ereaders are still to pricey for some. They are coming down in price, though. I own one and have a plethora of books stored on it. They're great for having a host of books available for reading while travelling.
Books of paper are enjoyable and the smell of old or new pages reminds me of leisurely days in an old library of my youth. This waxing nostalgia about old and new books in old and new libraries remains one of the great things about having an actual book in your hands. In addition, sometimes I just get tired of scrolling on a computer screen or ereader - it's close to, but not exactly the same as reading a book; technology is not always better. Electronic reading is, and will continue to grow; I don't think it will ultimately triumph though.
It depends. Are you asking in regards to sources for a research paper or for leisure reading? For research, more and more of my students rely upon electronic sources because of their ability to stay current. While I do not allow them to cite only electronic resources, I do encourage and teach them to use valid e-sources.
For leisure reading, my personal preference is still a hard copy. I like being able to make annotations in the book and to loan my copies to family, friends, and students. While you can "loan" books somewhat through Amazon's Kindle products, it is still not a very efficient system, especially since many of my students do not have access to an eReader.
I think both books and electronic sources will continue to exist, but for different purposes. When people need information, they will go to electronic sources. I once had a professor in college who said a book is five years out of date by the time it's published. That might be a slight exaggeration there, but electronics will always have an advantage. Yet people don’t always want to read a Kindle or iPad for pleasure. Sometimes we like the feel of a book in our hands.
I agree with those who say that the answer to this question will be determined by what context we are dealing with. I also agree with those who say that in situations where books and electronic resources might be used to achieve the same ends (for instance, reading fiction for pleasure), the book still wins.
There is a romance about the book that is real for me and, I think, for a lot of people. The same romance does not exist with e-readers.
We might consider another question in this debate:
With electronic devices now made to be as portable as books, will we turn more exclusively to the internet for our entertainment in situations where we once would have read a book?
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