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Print Versus Electronic: The Great Book Debate Continues

Stack of books and a Kindle reader

This week many librarians and information professionals tuned in for the Medical Library Association’s educational webcast “The ABCs of e-Books: Strategies for the Medical Library“. The webcast featured good tips for dealing with the acquisition and cataloging of e-books. Additional emphasis was given to better promoting e-books in library collections. Cataloging and acquisition processes aside, what really makes e-books so different from print books, and which medium is better? This debate has continued for quite awhile with both sides producing intriguing arguments.

This year the online publication ReadWriteWeb.com posted 2 articles relating to the e-book versus print debate. The e-book post evaluated 5 advantages of e-books and the print book post explored 5 advantages of paper books. Advantages explored in the e-books post included built in options such as dictionaries which make reading for comprehension easier. Additional advantages of e-books included the ability to highlight information, take digital notes and more easily search for information. Advantages of print books related to tactile aspects such as the feel and packaging of the book. Also explored were the ability to share, keep or purchase a second hand book which is lacking in the digital domain.

Additional information about the real differences between e-books and print books are also available. Stephen Abram’s recent article “P-Books vs. E-Books: Death Match?“, available in the September issue of Information Outlook, provides further insights and explores more advantages of each book type. The article is available with a subscription to Information Outlook.

Statistics show that e-books sales continue to grow. Acknowledging the changing trends in digital publishing, the New York Times announced this week that it will begin ranking e-book best sellers in both fiction and nonfiction categories in the coming year. As e-books become more commonplace and the market continues to change, how will libraries adapt to and integrate e-books into their holdings? How will e-books change the text and medical book field? Staying informed and up to date on emerging trends is one of the best ways libraries can prepare for the transitions now on the horizon.

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