LIFESTYLE: Books versus digital reader? What say you?


What I wanted to call this post is "My digital reader is giving me ADD." But that is really only part of my story as it has come to trying to switch my reading habits from paper to digital. I have been at odds with this topic for a few years now. I know many people have made the switch whole hog and love it for many reasons. I know my daughter some nights would prefer to read books off the iPad, as most kids lately. Sometimes I let her, sometimes I don't. For me, I consider myself a pretty hip chic for my age. But when it comes to reading, I have preferred old fashioned paper.

As I have grown to love my ipad for it's technological wonderments, I have been forcing myself to try and read on it to see what all the hoopla is about. There are some things I find really cool and helpful about it, and there are some things I just plain don't like about it.

What I have grown to like about digital readers:

1: A blessing-and a curse-is the ability to download on demand what you want to read, and dive in. I also love that you can get free samples of books, sometimes 8o pages worth! You can get to know an author's style and the tact of a book before spending your hard earned money. I know there have been emergencies at my house when I bought the wrong book for my book club and needed to get reading a different book ASAP, and Amazon Kindle for the ipad came to my rescue within minutes. I have also needed to be "HeroMom" for my daughter who needed a book for school last minute, and the mighty ipad delivered. Having the written world at your fingertips is definitely a powerful proposition, no doubt.

2: You seem to save money. Books seem a few dollars cheaper digitally. Also, the amount of free content on certain book sites is amazing! I was able to download some free Jane Austin, Sherlock Holmes and other classics. And now many library systems have ebooks you can check out. The Chicago Public Library lets you reserve and download right through their site. How easy are book returns digitally? No excuse for late returns now. Talk about saving money!

3: That built in light within your reader is pretty sweet for old, married, late night readers like me. I always use a jenky book light or mini flashlight when I am reading next to my husband. The lit screen makes reading at night much easier to do, but my eyes don't like it after a while.

4: It's great if you are trying to downsize. Books take up a lot of space. They are a pain to move (ask my husband and best friend who lugged my book collection down 3 flights of stairs for an afternoon). Large textbooks for school are a breeze to carry around on a digital reader. So that's a plus.

What I don't like about my digital reader:

1: Yes, the written word is at my fingertips. Yes, I can download a sample of many books to see if I like them. But this is where digital readers give me ADD. Before, when I bought a book at the bookshop or chose it at the library, there is a bit of commitment to that book. You choose carefully, and I think you give the story more of chance because it's physically there-you physically bought it or dragged it home from the library. Now with my digital reader, I can quickly just write off a book if it doesn't grab me quickly and download another sample. It's very easy to be fickle. I think one week I downloaded 5 samples! I don't think I bought a book, either.

2: I hate reading on the ipad screen. After about an hour I'm seeing double, even with my reading glasses. Now I know I am getting older-and so are my eyes. But even with the brightness on the lowest setting, it's just not ideal for reading. Kindle seems to be much better for this.

3: The ipad isn't comfortable or cozy to read. While I was holding it one night in bed, my arm fell asleep while it was resting on it. I have had my wrist cramp up, too. A book is just easier to hold. Maybe the kindle is better? I just think that paper books are warmer and more tactile. Digital readers are cold, slick devices with hard edges. They don't bend or curve like paper. They don't have that faint papery scent. The paper has a toothy feel, and the edges curl or crimp. I just think I would rather curl up with a book than an ipad.

4: It's not as fun to shop the app store for books. I love shopping with my daughter at the local book shop. Nothing beats an afternoon at the book store or library. The experience is completely different. There's nothing else like it. Smelling coffee grounds from the cafe. Trolling the aisles, seeing what grabs you. Sitting right in-between shelves and reading books to figure out what you will be bringing home. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.


So that's where I'm at with the digital switch. I think I will still buy paper books, and I think I will still dabble with reading digitally. Maybe someday there won't be paper books anymore. That will be a sad day for me. But the earth will be inherited by the young, won't it?

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