Monday, July 16, 2018

Paper Books or Digital Books?

There was a time, and perhaps the debate is still going on, that there were two sides about reading. There were books and then there were comic books. I can remember some of my teachers confiscating comic books, usually from boys who were deep into reading the stories. Even as a child, I would think to myself that at least they are reading! This was during "DEAR" time. (Drop Everything And Read!) They were not skipping out on reading an assignment. It was a free reading time that was meant to encourage reading. Something just did not seem right about this practice. My two cents did not count in this kind of debate. Once I became a teacher, I could make my DEAR time however I wanted to make it. Just READ.

Now it seems there is a debate concerning paper books or digital books. Paper books are physical books that may be paperback or hard cover. Digital books are downloaded onto E-reader notebooks such as Kindles, IPads, IPhones or other tablets that support these downloads. 

From the very beginning I put my nose up in the air at such a thing as a digital book and reading from a Kindle. Years went by before I even vaguely became curious, as I noticed more and more people reading them in waiting rooms, airports, or other places where a person may have some time to spare with nothing to do but wait. 

My husband never leaves the house without his book if he is headed to any place where there could be waiting. I thought of doing that, and even tried it a few times and unless it was a smallish book, it was uncomfortable to tote it in along with my handbag. 

This is when I finally tried out a free e-book offer from an author friend on Twitter. I had to have a month of daily appointments at a clinic and it was the perfect time to have something to read. It worked out beautifully. Yet I found that I still missed holding a real book. Holding the Kindle just was not the same feeling.

In my head I thought of the pros and cons of each type of book. Basically, I came to the conclusion that for me there was a time and a place for both. Just because I grew up with books all around me and found them comforting, I am not too old to learn new tricks, so to speak. 

  • A Kindle can have a whole library of books on it whereas if you were going on a trip or vacation and needed 2 - 3 books, your luggage would be weighted down.
  • Getting the book that you want to read immediately on Amazon gives you that instant gratification. You could order a book on Amazon and if you had Amazon Prime have it in two days or go out to a book store and buy it that very same day. How badly do you need that book that very minute?
  • Many e-books are offered free, especially the classics and new authors. Even so, most of the time Kindle books are less expensive than hard cover books. Yes, you could buy paperback books, however, my husband and I both prefer the hard cover over paperback, so this is my reasoning for comparing them.
  • Kindle books have the wonderful ability to touch a word and instantly get the definition of it. I must say that if I am reading a hard back book, there are times that I either use context clues or wait and check it later if my IPhone is not handy to google it.
  • A friend once told me that she loved sitting in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book. This is something I could not do with a digital book nor a hard cover. It would be too risky to drop it in the water, or get water on the pages as the pages are turned or water as you swipe to turn the page on the Kindle. Just lean back and close your eyes and relax. 

One interesting piece of information that I found was that studies have been done that prove there are tactile differences in how people recall events in a story based on whether they are reading it from an e book or a paper book. The research shows that e book readers do significantly worse on plot reconstruction such as list 14 events in the order that they took place. Paper book readers had a high level of correct emotional responses that showed there was a breakdown of mental reconstruction for e readers over paper book readers.

Everyone must make their own decision. I still will be the one standing tall and just saying, "JUST READ!"

In case you are wondering, yes, I have made my choice. I use both. Definitely, hard cover more often but I always have a book or two on my Kindle to read while I am out for an appointment. I tend to put books on it that will not matter if I get back to the story line in a week or so. While I am home, I get the comforting feeling of just holding a good book in my hands. 

 Let me end by sharing something that I found that really gets to the real reason that I prefer hard cover books. A 'digital book' can't be infused with smells, can't press flowers in-between its pages. It can't contain the teardrops that fell as you read the sad parts or the accidental coffee stains. No, only a real book can do those things. I saw this in a magazine and no longer can find it so I know the quote is not exactly right, but this says all that I believe about books.

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