Reading habits in a state of flux

In today’s era of advanced technology, it seems that no matter where USC students go, electronic readers are everywhere. Kindles, Nooks, iPads and even smartphones — all of these devices give students the power to instantly download books, typically for discounted prices. So, physical books are relics of the past, right? Wrong.

“My love for books is boundless,” said Brittany Valiza, a senior majoring in communication. “I’m not into the whole ‘e-book’ thing at all. It’s a pleasure going to Barnes & Noble and buying real books instead of reading everything digitally.”

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan

Genevieve Wijangco, also a senior majoring in communication, said nothing replaces paperback books. “It’s the experience of touching it, the fact that it’s tangible,” she said. “I love to read for pleasure and with paperback books, I see no need to buy them digitally.”

According to a statewide study conducted by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times, the number of Californians who own e-readers has increased since last year. Eighty-six percent of Californians who own e-readers, however, said they also read hardbound and paperback books. Additionally, 54 percent of Californians who own e-readers said they read books in print most of the time.

“It hurts my eyes!” said Emily Heckelman, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. “I use my MacBook for everything, so when I read paperback books, it gives me a break from the screen’s glare and allows be to me more comfortable,” Heckelman said.

The poll also cited an increase in pleasure reading among Californians. Out of the study’s pool of 1,500 Californian voters, approximately four in five said they have read at least one book for pleasure in the last month. Jeremy Klif, a senior majoring in business administration, said he could not remember the last time he read for pleasure.

“I don’t like e-books. Actually, I don’t like any kind of book,” Klif said. “I never enjoyed the reading process and in the rare case that there is a book that I really want to read, I usually don’t have time to read it because of all the stuff I already have to read for school.”

When it comes to print editions holding their own against their electronic counterparts, academic reading is a different story. Most of the students interviewed for this article preferred to access scholarly sources and other research material online because of its convenience. This has not, however, kept students from visiting USC’s many libraries.

Christina Ellis | Daily Trojan

According to Hugh McHarg, the associate dean of planning and communication, USC Libraries has seen a 40 percent increase in attendance from 2006 to fall 2010, and that increase has continued into 2012. More than 215,000 people visit USC Libraries each year.

“A big issue is space,” McHarg said. “We often have to find ways to accommodate an increasing number of students who want not just a quiet space to study, but also collaborative space to work together on group projects.”

McHarg said the influx of library users prompted USC Libraries to extend hours for the Von KleinSmid Center Library and the Crocker Business Library during finals.

“Although we offer a wealth of resources online, students tell us that they love interacting face-to-face with librarians who can help them find administrative, scholarly and valuable sources,” McHarg said. “It’s not like Google where you’re on your own.”

USC Libraries also re-opened the Los Angeles Times reference desk at Doheny Memorial Library to accommodate more students.

Jared Ginsburg, a junior majoring in political science, said the increasing number of students who use the libraries causes him to steer clear of Club Leavey.

“I do it all at home,” Ginsburg said. “I try to make use of the library’s electronic resources and I’ll download textbooks if I can. Anything to avoid the overcrowded libraries.”