By Erica Rakowicz

San Antonio plans to open a bookless library in the fall of 2013. Bookless library…an oxymoron? Quite possibly. Maybe even an outrage, for the lover-of-the-old, the paper advocate and the digital opposer.

The fright, or promise, of this paperless idea seems to be backed by many reports and contradicted by a handful of others.

Between the dry studies with overwhelming numbers and the latest technology fads, it’s relatively easy to be aware of the popularity of the e-book.

This popularity struck an idea for a quick future; the bookless library (illustration at right).

A stock of laptops, tablets on-site, 50 computer terminals and preloaded e-readers available for library goers plan to power the new bookless San Antonio library, according to NPR. 

The greener up-to-date approach has disadvantages. Libraries can play a large part in a child’s life, acting as a foundation for unlimited knowledge.

“They found that children who read enhanced e-books recalled significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version of the same story…,” reports a study by Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

As for the opposite end, adults are slowly but surely gripping hold of the e-book.

“The report showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%,” reported The Wall Street Journal from a recent PEW study.

There’s a specific majority group e-books appeal to.

“In the book-reading population, those most likely to read e-books include those with college or graduate degrees, those who live in households earning more than $75,000, and those whose ages fall between 30 and 49,” stated Pew Research Center.

The issue between paper books and e-books is similar to the small book stores vs. big franchise book chains debate.

It’s almost as if book stores today are like Meg Ryan and e-books are Tom Hanks in a modern day take on ‘You’ve Got Mail’.

“The Borders bankruptcy in 2011, which saw more than 500 retail outlets shuttered, appears to have hurt book sales through brick-and-mortar retail outlets- where sales tumbled 12.6 percent to $8.59 billion,” reported the New York Post.

Contradicting studies and overflowing vessels of opinion can make it hard to form any solid stance on the issue. After plowing through the numbers and charts, does it change a person’s preference?

There are pros and cons to each digital and print format, just like the other battles over most emerging technology.

E-readers for reading e-books are portable, e-books are eco-friendly, sharing is easy, e-readers are able to store many e-books at a time and some even look like real books.

E-readers must be charged and just like any other technology there’s always the chance of a failure in mechanics or a glitch. Some e-readers need wifi, some are bulkier than others and the price can often be steep.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you look for in a reading experience.



Hard copy or cold appliance?