You Can Keep Your Electronic Books

At least one millennial loves the real thing.

photograph by photogrpah by Dimijana | Dreamstime

Hi, I’m Anna, and I hoard magazines. (Hi, Anna.) I fully understand that they are heavy, somewhat cumbersome, and tend to clutter up a house. And yet I cannot check out of a grocery store or bookstore without purchasing at least one. Nor can I bear to throw them in the recycling bin, even after I’ve read them cover to cover.

My obsession is so strong that when I moved home from college, I filled an entire large cardboard box with glossy, perfect-bound pages and hauled them down three flights of stairs, drove them from Birmingham to Memphis, and lugged them up another flight to my room where they now live. I say “live” because on these pages, stories come alive, however clichéd that comment may sound. Without these stories, my passion for journalism as a career might never have been stirred.

As someone whose love of reading is evident in the numerous bookshelves and boxes I’ve accumulated over the years — and as a millennial — you would think me an ideal candidate for an electronic reader (or eReader, as we have classified them). Several people have nearly purchased them for me as a birthday or Christmas gift, until they realize I truly don’t want one. My aunt even said she didn’t care what I thought, she was buying me one anyway for graduation; she changed her mind when I told her I’d never, ever use it.

Clearly I’m out of step with my peers. According to a Nielsen newswire report in 2011, 61 percent of all eReader owners were female in the second quarter of 2011, compared to just 46 percent in the third quarter of 2010. My guess is that with increasingly swanky versions like the Kindle Fire, iPad, and Nook, these numbers have continued to rise.

Don’t get me wrong, the logical side of me is painfully aware of the benefits of eReaders — lighter travel, ease of switching between publications, even electronic suggestions for what you might like to read next. But none of these explain why I’ve intentionally avoided them thus far.

For me, there’s just something special about holding a book or magazine in your hands and flipping through the pages. Whether you’re at home, on a plane, on the beach, or cozied up in a coffee shop, there’s something almost magical about breaking the plastic of a new magazine or finding your old tattered bookmark right where you left it. Thankfully, I’m not alone. Forbes reported in 2012 that among the pros of print are tangibility, credibility, branding, and that “old-fashioned” publications are more engaging than digital platforms.

A few others share my obsession, including companies you might have heard of: Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Time Inc., and Wenner Media. In 2012 they teamed up to put together one of the largest marketing campaigns ever — titled “The Power of Print” — to stress the value of magazine advertising (find out more on this campaign at They stressed 11 key facts about magazine readership, including: 4 out of 5 adults read magazines, the average reader spends 43 minutes reading each issue, magazine readership in the 18 to 34 age group is growing, magazines deliver more ad impressions than TV or web in a half-hour period, and (my favorite) that overall print-magazine readership has continued to grow over the past five years. These facts seem to suggest print media will always have a place in society, no matter what various technologies come along.

Not that I think there’s anything at all wrong about people loving their eReaders. In fact, I believe that the eReader-vs.-print debate is something akin to “apples vs. oranges” — there’s plenty of room on the shelf for everyone. Some will have a taste for eReaders, some for print, and some for both (gasp!). I venture to guess that I’ll always land on the side of print, but I do check my iPhone like it’s a job requirement. My mother, on the other hand, prefers her Kindle to read and uses her iPhone for actual telephone calls.

One suggestion for my friends, though. Anyone out there who might have purchased me an eReader for Christmas might want to take this time to exchange it for a subscription to one of my many favorite magazines. Without sounding like a traitor to my generation: if loving print is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


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