Print Your Memoirs: Ebooks Miss the Connection

As a personal historian who helps people write their life stories, I see and hear families deliberating about whether the cost of producing a hard copy book is necessary. I get it. Electronic books – those available online only – and websites can be less expensive to create. Paper isn’t cheap and the time required to print and distribute is real. But somehow, it always has felt to me, reading an ebook or web-based family history just isn’t the same.

Maybe it’s the feel of the book in your hands or the smell of its pages. Maybe it’s the permanence of a bound book. It’s not dependent on your computer revving up or a website being accessible.

Well, it turns out, it’s not just me. And it’s not just us if you share my thinking. Even millennials – those born between 1980 and 2005 – find hard copy books more…valuable. An article in the Huffington Post shared the following gems when it comes to print versus ebooks:

·         Young people are more likely to believe that there's useful information only available offline.

·         Students opt for physical copies of humanities books, even when digital versions are available for free.

·         Teens prefer print books for personal use.

·         Students don't connect emotionally with on-screen texts.

·         Students comprehend less of the information presented in digital books.

·         Parents and kids prefer to read physical books together.

And none of this touches on the inevitability of technological change. The ebook or website you produce today may very well be obsolete when your grandchildren or great grandchildren get around to reading it.

What could be more important to preserve in hard copy form than a personal of family history? I can’t think of a thing. And evidently, millennials can’t either.

Take the long view, please. Print really is better.

Please let me know if I can help.