Poll: Is Reading Books Still Necessary?

By Daniel Scocco

First of all let me clarify my question: I am wondering if reading books is still necessary for personal and professional success. We are not taking into consideration other factors like the entertainment one here.

Now if this question was asked 20 years ago, I am sure that the vast majority of people would have echoed a big “Yes!”.

Today I am not so sure. I have a very clear opinion on the issue, but I won’t express it on this post, mainly because I want to understand what other people think.

So why I am not sure if people still consider reading books important?

First and foremost because today we have a pervasive alternative, called the Internet. If you wanted to get in-depth information about a certain topic 20 years ago, you would inevitably need to buy a book or visit a library. Today, you can access virtually all the information available to the human race without leaving your bedroom. All it takes is an Internet connection and a computer.

Apart from the content from the books themselves, in fact, you also have a myriad of blogs, wikis, online forums and social networks that are providing a huge amount of information on a wide range of topics, from collecting stamps to alternative Chinese medicine and dating women.

The question then becomes: is the information that we find on the Internet enough to foster our personal and professional success, or reading old-fashioned books is still necessary?

Have your say in our poll and drop a comment if you want to share your opinion. The poll closes on Friday, midnight.

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55 Responses to “Poll: Is Reading Books Still Necessary?”

  • Hendry Lee

    I think yes definitely books are still necessary, although many people seem to think that for books to carry value, they also have to pad with fluff – otherwise a book probably would fit into a few blog posts.

    I find myself enjoying books, although I become very picky about which book I read nowadays but the value in general is still better (at least more organized) than blogs.

  • Scott Williams

    I’m a avid blog reader and writer… however books are definitely necessary. You may use an iphone kindle app or the audio version; however books will always be necessary.

    I think the challenge is for authors to write better content!

  • Matej

    Does it really matters from where you read informations that are valuable for you? I will always read books ( Kindle ? ) because I hate looking at screen.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Matej,

    I am not wondering about what physical devices you use to get your information, but rather about what kind of information you rely on.

    Books are definitely different from the stuff you find on the Internet, in the sense that they are longer, more structured pieces of content centered around a specific topic, published by one specific author.

  • Tom | Easy Googler

    I think that books are definitely necessary for personal and professional success.

    Information isn’t free — most information on blogs is accompanied with advertisements.

    A good author will save his best content for a books, which he or she can sell and make a much better profit than if he or she had just put the content on a blog post.

    There are countless blog posts reviewing books. There are far fewer blog posts that review others blog posts.

    Books bring us higher quality content for a fee that is not available to everyone else.

  • Bilingual Blogger

    Books are most definitely necessary. I doubt I’d want a doctor or an airplane mechanic to have to rely solely on web sites and blogs to get the “book learning” that they need to function in their professions.

    Yes, there is a ton of info on the internet but it is overwhelming and not well-organized. One has to wade through a lot of crap and a lot of duplicated content to arrive at the kernel of info that is most needed. Also, some of the most valuable, pertinent content isn’t free and is behind a subscription wall. At least with a book one can quickly scan the table of contents and see how it is organized and tell whether or not the book has any value to you. It’s also portable and more energy efficient. 🙂 You don’t need to worry about having an internet connection whenever you have a book.

  • Mr. I

    Books are still necessary and will always be. Nothing can replace them. Today’s forums and blogs also have lot of wrong information. There is almost no such problem with books.

    For me, no device can replace the feeling of a good old book’s pages, never!

  • Keith

    I feel books will maintain a place of importance. There is a wealth of information on the internet to be sure, but due to the fact it is so easily accessible, it is possible that some individuals offering information may not be qualified to do so. In the end I am very happy to have BOTH! I love using the internet to search for information and I also love to browse bookstores and purchase books. One good thing about a book is that you can take it anywhere and there’s no battery to recharge or run down. Interesting article, get’s people thinking. 🙂

  • ZK@WebTrafficROI.com

    Yes even after 20 years answer is same. But I think if you will ask this question to new generation (of the age of 16 – 21) than poll results can be different.

    Because we have grown with such kind of books and all.

  • Adio Royster

    To be honest, I think reading (for the purpose of gathering information) is still necessary for one reason. Depending on the website you are getting your stuff from, how credible is the site itself? For me, there are too many unreliable websites to simply rely on that. Case in point: Wikipedia is not 100% accurate (as I’m sure many of you are aware).

  • Eric D. Greene

    I’m going to have to go with “No” on this. I don’t think it is necessary and required anymore.

    However, I do enjoy reading books on my own. Just to get away from the computer, relax on the couch, or to take a good book with me while traveling or something. So while it’s not necessary imo, it’s still enjoyable and worthwhile.

  • mother in israel

    Mr. I wrote:
    Today’s forums and blogs also have lot of wrong information. There is almost no such problem with books.

    Don’t believe everything you read. There are plenty of junky books out there with incorrect information. Getting a book published is no proof of quality.

  • Adam Pieniazek

    I voted No, it’s not necessary but they are still a great resource. They’re lots of information that is still best processed by reading a good book, plus you can’t sit in front of the computer all day and a good book is a great way to unwind and learn at the same time. Plus, you don’t have to worry about battery power, internet connection and books can be easily shared.

    Having said all that, they’re not absolutely necessary, especially depending on your field. If you’re a web worker there’s plenty of online resources to guide you.

    Btw, I’m 25 and think newspapers need/should go paperless (sponsored e-paper/ebook readers could be huge, “The New York Times, brought to you electronically by Nike”).

  • Emmanuelle Archer

    As much as I love reading blogs and finding information online, books are definitely necessary.

    Online content should ideally be concise, easy to scan and easy to find though SEO. This is great for when I need to find straightforward information, fast.
    However, books are pretty hard to beat when it comes to conveying a lot of in-depth information. Bloggers themselves will often turn to the e-book format when they have larger amounts of information to compile, organize and articulate.

    Online content is often the medium through which I first find out about a topic. Once I decide to read up more on the subject, though, I will almost always turn to books for more in-depth reading.

  • Satish

    Is Reading Books Still Necessary?
    Are you including ebooks in the above question??
    If yes i can close my eyes and say its damn necessary.

    If you are not including ebooks, then that depends on personal opinion. I prefer reading hard copies, I get a chance to stay away from my comp at least for some time 😛

  • Arun

    Hello Dan,
    Correct me if I am wrong pal that DBT rss sub. have down to 8500 from 17000. How this can be?

  • Positively Present

    Books are absolutely necessary. Though we can learn a lot from a variety of sources — including TV, online articles, magazines, and, of course, blogs — there is something about a book that is more complete than other sources. As I’m sure we’ll see in the future, the traditional form a book will be replaced with Kindle Books, eBooks, and other formats, but we will always need books.

    (Note: I’m a HUGE fan of books, so I may be a bit biased about this topic.)

  • Irene A. Norris

    I hope books will always be availaable as I have always been a reader all my life and worked in a major library system for over forty years. Also, I own many books, probably more than I’ll ever have time to read.
    In the mid-sixties, while attending the University of Miami, I went to a debate between two English professors on the future of books. Interestingly, the older instructor was sure that books would be obsolete 25 years on, whereas the younger man was sure they’d still be around. I’m so glad he was right. (Are E-books still around?)–armie113

  • Pinaki Ghosh

    Today, we can get almost all generic information from the net; but for specialized, and more original information, we still have to read books to a large extent. The best books are still available as printed books. Free ebooks do not compare with them. Besides, you feel more comfortable to read paper books; you cannot really enjoy reading a book from a computer.

  • Paul

    I voted yes. In fact I just bought three books from Amazon, one is the new WordPress plugin development guide, one is about landing pages, and the third is on writing web content.

    I would say 100% of what I will read in those books is attainable on the internet *somewhere*. The problem is where? Take the WordPress plugin development example, I could ready the (incomplete and often vague) developer docs on WordPress.org, read a bunch of tutorials on blogs (would have to find them via Google searches), trawl through code of my favourite plugins, and start tinkering.

    However the advantage of the book is that it takes an organised, coherent approach and is a more effective learning method for a new topic than the random nature of the web.

    The same goes for the other two books I bought, both are areas I am very unfamiliar with so are worth learning in book form.

    Now on the other hand if I already was experienced in plugin development and just needed a primer on some new hooks in the latest WordPress that is where the web delivers more value than buying a whole book would.

  • Alex Iskold

    Reading books is important because information consumed via a book is different from the one online. Book consumption is systematical and complete. The online consumption is search-driven, interruptable and overall attention-deprived.

    The whole notion that you can understand the world in byte-size chunks without giving it deep thought is pretty broken, imo.

    Alex

  • Madeline

    Reading books for “personal and professional success” is more important now than ever for (in my mind) 1 main reason: empathy.

    It’s so easy to read a tidbit of information and judge others quickly. I think it’s important, now more than ever, that we try to understand other viewpoints: cultural, business, religious, and more.

    Reading a book written by a person who has a completely different viewpoint and set of circumstances, and feeling by the end of the book that you understand where they are coming from and why they would act the way they did is a priceless, mind-opening experience.

    And I can’t think of another way to accomplish it, apart from having good friends who can impart it to us – which I’m guessing most of us don’t.

    Examples of people I’ve learned to relate to by books alone:
    – orthodox Mormons
    – mothers of stillborn children
    – mother of serial killer
    – hermaphrodite
    – someone living in a communist country
    – someone living in a violent relationship

    I don’t know any of the above except through books, but I feel I can empathize, even though I may not truly understand or agree.

  • Rehuel

    I don’t think books are necessary. It may be more pleasant to read something in print, or it can be easier to have a hard copy lying around for quick research, but when it comes to the information that they hold, I believe that the Internet is a far more valuable resource.

    So, no, they are not necessarily necessary, but don’t get rid of them.

  • Dingchao

    It will be unnecessary quite soon. It’s easy to understand, we don’t want to drive a horse when we have a car unless we treat it as a hobby.

    I haven’t read a real book since I bought a laptop.

    So I have enough reason to believe reading books will be not necessary at all! This is a progress of society, nobody can refuse it. And I also think library will be unnecessary in the future!

  • Dev

    No issues, Reading books have their own charm and I am dead sure that this can never be replaced.
    Read On… 🙂

  • Ruben

    Hell yes, books contains expertise from a to z. Blog posts are hap snaps, too fragmented and you have to wait for the next post while you can read on with a book. Blogs are good to know some basics, but sharing real expertise from begin to end isn’t free. Also not all subjects are covered on a blog.

    I buy books frequently, about internet marketing, lately also consulting and really, without (the good) books I would have been a lot dumber then I am now ;-P haha.

    Some books are real eye openers and changes your way of thinking while the internet gives you just enough to survive.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Arun, it is a Feedburner glitch.

  • Tina Gleisner

    Books are still necessary to research something in depth. Speed readers (I’m not) can devour 100s of pages quickly, but slower readers …

    Would appreciate authors learning to edit out extraneous words that don’t add to the story, i.e. give us the content without the Michener style flowery words.

  • Nikhil

    Yes definitely they are necessary. We can not read or find all the good articles, books or anything related to our work in front of our computer.
    There are still many things which are currently not available on the internet but are in the books…
    So keep reading & keep Creating…

  • odtaa

    Well there is the expression horses for courses.

    If I want to learn a computing technique I will almost certainly use the internet first. I can quickly compare websites and in many cases see a demonstration.

    I’ve stopped buying techie books as I find that I probably only need something like 20 pages out of 482 in the book. An there’s usually lots and lots of waffle – 15 pages to explain what can be said in a couple of sentences.

    However I do still use a few well thumbed books which I can use for reference, without having to switch anything on. These are books I know my way around and like my favourite web sites I can get what I want very quickly.

    If you are studying other subjects, eg law, history – then you need books.

    Also I love to read fiction and I find I don’t like scrolling on a screen. I also like the feel of books.

    However I’m seriously thinking of getting an e-reader for travelling.

  • thierry roget

    For tech book i think that a blog about reading the book would help

  • Destination Infinity

    Reading books is absolutely necessary. The details are almost always lost on the internet and it is very hard to keep staring at the laptop screen even after coming home. I would be rather comfortable to lie down and take a hard cover book and read 20-25 pages just to relax. Secondly, a lot of non fiction/business/self improvement books are very very invaluable. I don’t think the internet, with its fashion for shorter articles, can ever replace such works.

    Destination Infinity

  • Suzanne Franco

    Well … for me they are “necessary” when I want to really dive into a subject … online there I am so distracted and I find it so hard to “really” read and comprehend something that’s important … fluff and basics are fine … It’s so much easier for me to have a tangible book that I can take with me at any time … put a bookmark where I left off … no flashing ads … and it’s much easier on the eyeballs … I do agree that there is a lot of wrong information online … but there is also a lot of really good, well written information online too … especially outside of the internet marketing crowds … actual writers who are making their way online … who know how to write really well … but don’t know how to market their site/writings. They would make people to partner with … unfortunately with what goes on in the internet marketing world most would be too leery to do so … Great topic Daniel 😉 *SmiLes* Suzanne

  • Hal

    I go with the majority on this question – books are absolutely necessary. I see the Internet as an encyclopedia (in fact it is) to turn to as an adjunct to books.

    As others have pointed out, books are specialized and organized for specific subject and content.

    An important point no one has mentioned, I and most others I know do not read on the Internet – we skim. When I read a book, I make notes on the pages, mark and underline, and actually read it to understand.

    Books, like still photography, will not go away. They may change form, as with the Kindle or some other digital reader. They will never disappear.

    Anyone educated solely on the Internet has missed the heart of learning, and has had a poor, disorganized teacher.

  • Fatin Pauzi

    Absolutely, reading books are still necessary. I want to know every single thing about internet marketing and I don’t wanna miss any knowledge about it even it comes from books, but not others blog.

  • tuento

    for now and then, the only thing crossed in my mind is…book is just another art of reading, a classic but elegant way to consume information

  • Julius

    I, for one is an avid book reader. So you almost likely to know where I stand. Besides, there’s no electronic stress in reading a book.

  • Webhead20

    Books are still necessary! Not just because they are longer with hopefully more organized, thought out and researched content! Reading a screen can still feel like work and we need an emotional break from that, a change of scenery. A book can still provide information at the beach, gym, park etc.

    Physically you change your posture when reading as well which for a lot of us who are stuck behind a desk stationary all day, this is a good thing!

  • Laura Christianson

    I can’t imagine snuggling under the covers at night with “a good laptop.” Just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

    I just finished reading two marketing books and I’m starting on a book on Twitter. Sure, I can get the same info by surfing the Net, but it’s nice to read it all in one place, at one time, from authors whom I respect.

    I’ve had three of my own books published, and I can attest that book sales are still going strong, even in niche markets.

    Laura Christianson
    Twitter @heblogssheblogs

  • Anish K.S

    A big Yes

  • Zaheen

    I pefer reading books only because; they come in print and can be held an manipulated by hand.

    This is better for the eyes and the back and that’s the simple reason why people still prefer reading a book than a screen…

  • Sara

    I think reading books is necessary: we can find every kind of information on the web, but having it on paper is different.
    You can underline words, take notes… It is possible for digital books too, but writing with a pencil instead that with a keyboard, gives a better sense of ownership, it conveys more meaning to your brain and increases your consciousness on the issue.

  • Vin | NaturalBias.com

    I think it’s possible to be successful without books, but I also think that anyone who neglects to read books is seriously limiting their potential. I read both books and websites extensively and can say that without a doubt, I’ve learned much more from books than I have from the internet.

    However, there are some cases where information changes so quickly that most books are out of date and the internet is a more valuable resource. Internet marketing is a good example.

  • Cheap iPhone 3g

    I think the info in books is usually more direct and concise so they are easier to learn from whereas the information on websites tend to waffle on a bit becase they tend not to go through the same editing process. Also if you want good info from the web you usually have to pay anyway.

  • Che – Snugd

    I think the information on the web is unreliable. Any one can write about something without spending a dime and its hard to verify some one’s competency about a topic. Wikipedia for example, most of the topics on Wikipedia might be right, but I noticed lots of wrong information.

  • heartburn solutions

    reading books is good habits….but now, time is limit……need more simple and effective

  • Priya Ramachandran

    Agreed that there are myriad channels on the net to get info you require blogs, wikis etc but I would rather treat them as supplementary info in addition to what I am reading in a book. I would rather be comfortably sitting on by bean bag or a hammock while reading than staring at the screen for hours!

  • Referrals Cash

    Reading books is necessary as it really gives us the knowledge to be better blog writers. It is a good way to pass time and not being cooped up in front of the computer all day.

  • Jen

    I think reading books is definitely important in this day and age. Not only does it expand ones vocabulary but it keeps ones imagination exercised. Reading for me is one of my favorite forms of entertainment.

    Not only that, but a lot of inconsistency on the web, and it’s up to the individual to make that determination. If you want to learn something, like Ruby for instance, there are a lot of tutorials on the web but a book written about Ruby is guaranteed to have more information.

  • Janíce

    It has been shown that we use more energy (read: more brain cells are exercising) reading than we do watching television, for example. In face, you burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television. Further, reading helps prevent mental illnesses down the road that is at least partially due to lack of use.

  • Liz M

    The internet is always my first resource whenever I have a question, and certainly it’s the easiest way to go, but it doesn’t always produce answers. So yes I think books are still necessary as another research option.

  • Helen Doris

    Reading books is basic as it really gives us the knowledge to be better, more information, and facts.

  • ravi

    I think it’s possible to be successful without books, but I also think that anyone who neglects to read books is seriously limiting their potential. I read both books and websites extensively and can say that without a doubt, I’ve learned much more from books than I have from the internet.

    However, there are some cases where information changes so quickly that most books are out of date and the internet is a more valuable resource. Internet marketing is a good example.

  • Rollladen

    As a student of a technical university I can say that only in books I can find a reliable and specialist technical knowledge. Thats why I think that reading books is and will be still necessary.

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