Are you a purist, only reading paper books and never sullying your hands with those “electronic wannabes?” Or are you one of those people who love to have their entire library at their fingertips in the vastness of cyberspace? Or do you have a long commute and listen to your books on your iPod?
What category do you fall into? One is obviously better than the other and the rest are pure heresy…Or are they?
Why do we get so worked up about this? The most important thing is the content not how we read it. For myself I use all three. Nothing will ever replace the feel and smell of a good book, just as there is no happier place on earth than a shop stuffed to bursting with books. But e-books have their place, I always have one (or ten) on my phone for those rare instances when I find myself without a physical book. And then there are audiobooks for all those mundane tasks that really can’t be done with a book in your hand—like driving, or mowing the lawn.
I love all the options I have. I can even synch an audiobook and an e-book together, which allows me to read books faster. And you know what? In this fast paced modern world it can be hard to find the time to read, we have to use all the tools at our disposal so we can still experience the joy of getting lost in the magic of another person’s imagination.
And for those who still can’t stand the idea of reading a book on an electronic device I understand your resistance, but here are a few pros to think on.
A phone or kindle is compact and can easily fit into one hand. Depending on the size of a paper book it can be a struggle to find a comfortable position to hold it in. My sister loves reading on her phone because she can easily hold her baby in one arm and her phone in the other and read.
Another perk is that you don’t need light to read. A phone or kindle is perfect for the long wait in a dim movie theater while you wait two hours for your favorite blockbuster. Or for reading in bed when your light switch is across the room and you want to read before bed, but you don’t want to have to get up again to turn off the light. With a phone you can turn the light off, curl up in your bed and read yourself to sleep without ever worrying about that silly light.
It’s also camouflage. Let’s face it most of us are rarely without our phones and as such it makes it easy to smuggle books into that social event you were forced to go to, but know you’ll be miserable at. You really want to bring a paper book with you, but you know that’s not appropriate and other people will take offense, but no one will think anything of it if they see you staring intently at your phone screen, it’s perfectly normal after all.
Now I’m not saying that once you download an e-book onto your phone that that’s it—you’ve chosen your side!—it’s time to make a pile and burn all your paper books.—No! It’s not either or, it’s not us against them, it’s simply being willing to use the tool that best fits the situation.
I don’t think we should become snobs about how we consume stories, the point is that we all love stories, we just have more options now. I understand that we’re afraid this new technology means physical books will one day cycle out and be replaced by electronics and that’s a possibility, but I don’t believe they will stop printing books anytime soon. But if they do we will just hold our libraries all the tighter, valuing the books which are still in print, digging through old bookstores, scouring garage sales and plundering our grandparent’s attics for those books which remain. But whatever happens storytelling isn’t going anywhere, it is simply evolving.
So read in whatever manner you choose, but don’t fear or look down on other forms, because they’re all part of the same literary family.
About the Author
By day Sarah Sanborn works in a rental store with excavators, chain saws, chairs, dishes, and any number of other exciting objects, but by night—and her days off—she tries to piece together the wild ideas that run through her head into coherent stories. Her favorite place to write is in coffee shops, where she can spy on people for inspiration when she gets stuck. She’s currently working on polishing a Sci-fi/Fantasy novel she wrote last November during the National Novel Writing Month, if all goes according to plan she hopes to publish it in the next year or two. You can follow her blog or follow her on Twitter @LadyOfThePen