I am currently reading a book on my Kindle. It was free, so I couldn’t resist. And while I am enjoying it, and see the benefits of electronic books, I long for the weight of a book in my hands.
There are times when reading on a device is a joy. One of the biggest benefits of electronic books is that it is instant. With a click, a book can appear on my phone. What magic! There have been times when reading a book on a device has kept my attention. I read Anna Karenina, Sarum, and The Goldfinch on my phone. Crazy? Yes. And unintended. (I just needed a book at the moment.) I think I read faster on an electronic device. Something about the backlit screen. Or maybe it’s the act of swiping each page.
For me, there are more times when the physicality of a book is necessary. Electronic books eliminate the aesthetics of a book. The cover design can not be duplicated on an electronic page. The feel of the page, the place of a bookmark, the way the author places the words on a page is important for comprehension and enjoyment. I’d argue that careful reading is harder to do on with an electronic book. With paper, I find myself going back to re read certain parts. Not so with electronic. It’s too difficult to navigate the back and forth.
Paper books live with me: beside my bed and on my bookshelves. I see reading not as an act of solitude, but on that needs to be shared. Handing a book to a friend is an offering that says, I know you and I think this is worth you time.
If all that existed in life were electronic books, I’d adjust. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.
This post was inspired by bermageddon who compared city living to suburban life in this slice. What might you compare and contrast?