Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading vs. eReading

Lately it seems like everything is "going digital." Almost all of my favorite magazines offer subscriptions through eReaders or eReading apps, books release to Kindle and Nook within days of releasing in paper form, and I have read more than one article debating whether eReaders are a prelude to the demise of the printed word.  It's a book eat eBook (and tablet eat Kindle) world out there, guys.  The race is on to create the cheapest, most versatile, slimmest and most efficient tablet/eReader, and it sometimes seems as if paper books are being left in the dust.

I'm not quite sure how to feel about all this.  I grew up with books.  Real books.  The kind with bright covers and crisp pages that whisper together as you turn them.  They had dust jackets and dog eared corners and worn edges from being passed around to friends, family and neighbors.  Over the years I have accumulated more books than I can count (four full cases in my home, and 12+ boxes in storage from childhood).  I have a deep rooted love of books, and each and every one I own feels like an old friend.

On the other hand, I have more books than I can count.  My collection is heavy, takes up vast amounts of space, and is beyond difficult to move.  I always have a book with me, and, when traveling, this is impractical.  Paper books are clunky and heavy, and it seems like all my favorites are ridiculously thick.  Because of these inconveniences, I've become a proud Kindle owner.

Despite my attachment to old-fashioned printed books, I love my Kindle.  It's light.  It's sleek, small and stylish.  It was reasonably priced.  It has an extraordinary battery life -- up to a whole month on a single charge!  And best of all, most eBooks cost considerably less than newly released hardbacks.  I've read around thirty eBooks on my Kindle, and I was surprised how natural and comfortable it felt.  Since the screen isn't back-lit, its easy on the eyes, and most of my eBooks feature all the same embellishments and unique fonts as their paper counterparts.  I am eternally grateful that I can accumulate new reading material without an even bigger mass of paper to lug around for the rest of my life.

However, I am by no means returning my library card, or letting go of my paper books in lieu of digital copies.  I still purchase paper copies of new favorites, and I cannot imagine reading a magazine in any form other than in its original paper binding.  Half the fun of a magazine is physically flipping through the pages, and nothing will ever replace the feeling of snuggling up on the sofa with a real book in my hands on a lazy afternoon.  Beyond emotional attachment, printed words have a sense of permanence, a certain stability, that digital text lacks.  Books have been around for ages, but how long can we hope to use our eReaders before newer, better technology is developed?  My Kindle (much like my old iPod mini) has a shelf life that's only valid until something shinier comes along.  While I hope I'll be able to transfer my Kindle library onto whatever newfangled device I next acquire, I'm not taking any chances:  my paper copies are here to stay.



[This video says it best: "There's nothing quite like a real book."]

So, will eReading eventually phase out the printed word?  I sure hope not.  I am pleased as punch that our tech saavy world spewed out eReaders, but for me, the printed word holds too many memories to be idly tossed aside.

Where do you stand on the Reading vs. eReading debacle?

15 comments:

  1. I think eReadrers are wonderful if you do not want to accumulate a bunch of books in your home and for traveling or just carrying reading material with you. I, too, prefer paper magazines. I mostly read them in the tub so getting them on an eReader and then doing that is just asking for trouble LOL. I also love going to the library. I think regular books will be around for a long long time, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly hope so! I can't imagine a world without libraries (private OR public).

      Delete
  2. I haven't tried an e-reader yet. don't need to get hooked on something else! LOL. I love the library....I don't keep books around once I've read them. At that point I consider them clutter and out they go to a new home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, if you do a lot of traveling/just like to have books with you, I really recommend trying one out! Otherwise you might not use it often enough to justify the price. If you do invest in one someday, let me know how you like it!

      Delete
  3. I don't think it will but I'm an optimist and I'd like to think that we could have both :)

    I personally love my ereader - it's not about the vehicle for me, its about the reading - with a book or reader, I completely forget about the world around me and even what I'm holding and I just read :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rhianne, what kind of eReader do you have?? Just curious. :)

      Delete
  4. Well, I know where you get liking to read. From your mom and Aunt Frances. They too have an abundance of books. It would be a toss up between you and Frances to see who owns the most books. Liking to read has also helped you be eloquent in writing. Someday I hope to see a book in print by Carrie Kindred.

    ReplyDelete
  5. my friend got me a kobo for a wedding present last year. i like my kobo, but i think i prefer real books. when i first started reading my ebooks, i would find myself trying to turn the page at the upper right corner instead of with the button at the bottom, which i guess shows that once i'm into a story i don't notice what i'm reading it on. the thing i missed most about real books was being able to just pick it up and open to any random page and just start reading. with books that i've read a million times, i like to flip around in them to my favorite parts, and it's harder to do that with my kobo. while traveling, though, i love my kobo. it's great being able to carry around a million different books without the added space/weight. so now i tend to either check ebooks out from my library or buy ebooks that i want to read but probably won't become lifetime favorites. the favorites are always in physical form.

    for my mom's birthday last year, my sisters and i got her a kindle and she absolutely loves it. she was always a big reader (which got all of us into reading), but started to get headaches from the small font and would tend to lose her reading glasses. she basically stopped reading for a couple of years, but with her kindle she can make the font as big as she wants and was able to start back up again. she also reads magazines on it. i'm with you on physically flipping magazine pages, but she doesn't mind it.

    i don't think books are going to be going anywhere, though. even with the spread of ereaders and tablets. though i did go to the library the other day, and the librarian was saying that since they started to allow people to borrow ebooks, she sees entire days pass without a single person in the library. that made me sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had a few minor issues with turning pages on my Kindle, too. The button is really wide, and located on the side, so if I bump the Kindle against anything while I'm reading I wind up turning a bunch of pages and getting lost. It's more of a "I'm clumsy" problem than a Kindle problem, but it's one of my few complaints.

      I keep all of my favorites in paper form too... One of the main reasons is that I quote them often, and it's hard to look up specific passages on the Kindle unless you made a bookmark/saved a note from that page the first time through. Also, I really am afraid of losing everything I've bought for the Kindle one day, should they go out of style.

      Kobo isn't one I've heard of! *looks it up*

      Delete
    2. kobo is (was?) the borders' ereader. i think it's the least known out of all the ereaders. the one i have doesn't have all the capabilities of the kindle so i can't save notes or bookmark anything which makes it even harder to go back to favorite parts. i think i'm kind of afraid of losing everything, too, which is why i think twice about buying ebooks.

      Delete
  6. I've felt pretty much the same about my Kindle. In fact, spookily I wrote pretty much the same kind of post a few days ago!

    http://randomdaydreaming.blogspot.com/2012/01/kindle-vs-real-life-books.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was very hesitant about getting a Nook and kept putting it off longer and longer until my boyfriend got me one for Christmas. I love it because as soon as I finished The Hunger Games I could immediately buy Catching Fire and Mockingjay. But there's still a part of me that wants to see this set on my bookshelf, so I find myself going out and spending twice to have the physical set. eReaders are great for instant access, but for the books that really resonate with me, I'm going to be keeping a copy of them around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I have two lists of books to buy now -- one for kindle, and another that's a list of favorites I need to buy in paper form.

      Delete
  8. I still do not have a reader. I will continue to buy actual in hand books until I no longer get that option. There's something about having the actual book that I love.

    ReplyDelete

Each comment you leave donates one smile to my day.
Thanks so much for letting me know what you think.