Readers prefer ebooks over print books most of the time

Bad news for people that love their print books – a survey of avid readers found that ebooks are superior to print books for a wide range of purposes.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Reading Habits Survey conducted a study from 11/16/11 to 12/21/11 on people that had read both ebooks and printed books in the previous 12 months.  They then asked those readers if they thought an ebook or a print book was better for several common scenarios.

The study found that respondents thought ebooks were superior to print books in most situations.  The only two categories where people thought print books were better than ebooks were in “Reading with a child” and “Sharing books with other people”.  This makes sense since children’s books have great illustrations, range drastically in size, and are usually made of child-friendly materials.  The sharing makes sense too since ebooks are virtually impossible to share.

The vast majority of readers found that ebooks were better than print books for many important reasons.  It makes sense that ebooks dominate in the “Being able to get a book quickly” and “Reading books while traveling or commuting” categories.  You can download an ebook instantly from almost anywhere and you can take an entire collection of ebooks with you on a single device anywhere you go.

It’s pretty surprising that ebooks were superior to print books in the “Having a wide selection of books to choose from” category.  There are still many print books being sold where there is no electronic version available.  The Harry Potter ebooks were available for the first time just last month while the print books have been out for years.

The most interesting data from the study was the “Reading books in bed” category.  This is the only category that truly provides information on which format readers prefer to physically hold and read.  The study shows that people are divided almost equally in this category.

So ebooks win out in convenience and availability and are just as good as print books in the aesthetics department.  This is probably why ebook sales are skyrocketing and print book sales are falling.