Books vs e-readers
I love books, I really do and I will not stop buying them. But I also love my Kindle Paperwhite and I have never appreciated it more than in these times of quarantines and lockdowns. With the world at a standstill, you cannot buy books online and get them delivered let alone visit a bookstore. My kindle has been my saviour, I have been able to buy new books (despite an already existing massive TBR pile) on my kindle and read with a new kind of ferocity despite the lockdown. No wonder I always have my kindle with me, It is like having my own private bookstore with me wherever I go.
Even when I travel, I do not carry physical books with me, I just load 3 new books (at the minimum) on the kindle and take that along. What I like to do then is buy physical books from wherever I am visiting because that way I get to explore some marvellous independent book stores and indulge in local lore and literature. Plus I feel they make for great souvenirs apart from the little trinkets you pick up for gifting.
You cannot deny how useful and convenient an e-reader is, it’s great to get some reading done on the go, you can even read in the dark, because of its internal light. Also, it helps that most books are cheaper on an e-reader plus you have access to unlimited books at any given time. So it goes without saying that you will rarely find me without my kindle.
Have I betrayed my fellow bibliophiles by embracing an e-reader? I’ve been accosted by many book lovers who were shocked to discover that I read a lot on my kindle, I was surrounded by cries of ‘How could you?’ and ‘You are not a true book lover if you read an e-reader’ But it is an irrefutable fact that my reading has increased twofold because of the convenience it affords, Consequently, why wouldn’t I use something that helps me thin my ‘Too-Be-Read’ pile. I confess, my kindle is my true aide and companion on my quest to read
I won’t lie, I carried some amount of guilt with me. You can’t help but feel like you are betraying a childhood friend. Books have always been there for me, taking me on adventures or consoling me like an old friend, a warm hug with words. It is indisputable that an e-reader does not have that tactile feel and comfort that comes with a book. There is just something about holding a book in your hand, turning the pages with a flick of your fingers, it just adds an extra dose of magic and nostalgia to heighten your reading experience. Not to mention that you will never get that enticing smell of books in an e-reader.
According to Maryanne Wolf, the author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in the Digital World—text in print slows your mind down, allowing time for critical thinking processes that cultivate empathy and perspective. Basically reading physical books facilitates more retention, you will not miss out plot details and take in the information more slowly hence retaining it for longer. When it comes to reading digitally, the opposite occurs since you do so at a faster speed, which Wolf says provokes multitasking and skimming. This can be handy for emails and casual browsing where you would rather get the gist of things than spend time reading it all.
Much like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Deciding which is better, a book or an e-reader isn’t as clear cut as most people believe it to be. I for one have stopped agonizing and comparing the two, instead, seize both with equal fervour. Of course, reading on my kindle is more convenient but it will never replace my love for physical books and I will continue to buy them, every chance I get. Switching to an e-reader has not taken away my love for books and literature instead, it has magnified it.