Audio: Commuters Increasingly Turn to E-Readers

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Many people escape the hustle and bustle of big city life by diving into a good book during their commute. But what makes for better subway reading material–digital or traditional books? As we found when we hit the New York City subways during the afternoon rush, that depends on whom you ask. The following audio report was a collaborative effort of the News Literacy Project, the journalism students at De La Salle Academy and NLP journalist fellow George Bodarky, News Director at WFUV Radio.

Yugo Yoshimura was leaning against the subway doors on a southbound No. 1 train when we met him, listening to music while reading a traditional print book.

“I like to hold the books in front of me, and my eyes don’t get really tired,” said Yoshimuro when asked why he prefers print. “I don’t read digital books.”

But other commuters didn’t agree. They said they like the convenience of an e-reader because they are handier, more eco-friendly, and it’s like having a library at their fingertips. Commuter Monica Pinzon says today’s e-readers are multi-taskers.

“I love them. It’s easy to access the Internet,” she said. “Right now, I have a Kindle Fire, so I can do some web browsing, as well as reading.

Pinzon is not alone in loving her e-reader for the commute. A recent study from the Pew Research Center says commuters prefer e-books over traditional books 73 to 19 percent.

Tucked under the stairs at the 103rd Street subway stop on the No. 1 train is Muhammad Afiz’s newsstand. Afiz said the rise in popularity of e-readers is costing him money and changing his business.

“Nowadays, I think it’s more selling snacks and drinks, those things – not newspapers and magazines,” said Afiz, adding that sales of “newspapers and magazines [are] going down every day. “

Another commuter by the name of Chrissy is partly responsible for that change.

“I think the e-reader, especially for a commute, you don’t have a huge paper that gets your fingers dirty, and it’s much easier on the e-reader,” she said.

“There’s nothing we can do. Everything is in technology now,” said Frank, who has worked at a deli at 96th Street and Broadway for 22 years.

But while Frank seemed resigned to his fate, Professor Albert Greco, a book industry expert at Fordham University, said newsstands can change with the times.

“It could be a place where you walk in with an e-reader, pay a fee, and download on the spot,” said Greco.

So, will traditional books ever disappear? Not likely, says Professor Greco – a lover of print. He predicts people will still be reading printed books a hundred years from now. There just won’t be as many.


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Categories: Economics, Man on the Street, Video & Audio Projects


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