A dear friend posted an article to her Facebook page. It was a critique of e-readers that seemed to be saying that the quality of reading that you get is less than what you’d experience with reading an actual physical book.
The article can be found here.
The following is my rebuttal which I just HAD to write because I am a huge fan of the written word as read in any form available. I love having choices and don’t feel that e-readers are any worse, or any better, than physical books, and both have their place.
She begins with the statement that
Reading in print helps with comprehension.
What I read on a Kindle IS the printed word, or looks just like it. The e-ink used on most e-readers is designed to look like the text on a printed page and is as easy on the eyes..or easier if you need vision help since you can enlarge the font.
Reading long sentences without links is a skill you need — but can lose if you don’t practice.
I am reading a very comprehensive, detailed, and lengthy book about the Tudor dynasty in the political, cultural, societal, and religious context of its time. It has plenty of long sentences that are as long as needed to cover the subject and to get the author’s point across. And I’m reading it on my Kindle. There is nothing superficial about my reading. There are no links on the page in my e-reader. Links are not typically found in the text of an e-book. They are more likely in an article, but not necessarily. I wonder what the author of this article reads.
Then there is this, which is based on the assumption that it is not possible to read on an e-reader in a slow, focused and undistracted way. Why would doing those things be inherently undoable on an ereader?):
Reading in a slow, focused, undistracted way is good for your brain.
I always read that way if something is interesting to me, and if it is, I am very focused, regardless of whether it is an e-book or a physical book. And that statement may apply to reading on a phone, but not on an e-reader, which does only one thing: present text for reading. And turning a page with a button click is for me so quick that I don’t lose focus. And should I slow down my reading to some prescribed pace? How slow is slow enough? What an odd statement.
I think that if someone is resistant to the concept of e-readers, they should stay away from them, by all means. And there is really no need for these acrobatic attempts (such as this article…I’ve seen others) at trying to prove that the use of technology is inferior to the non-use of it.
Personally, I like reading on my devices, and I also still like reading physical books. I read on my Kindle, on a Nook that I was given (having both means that I don’t have to switch formats because not all books come in all formats), and on a tablet, also a gift, because, being a bit larger, it handles one format type better than the other two devices. I like being able to travel with hundreds of books. I like being able to turn the page quickly when I knit and read simultaneously, which I love to do, and do without lessening the joy of reading or any benefits I derive from reading.
I have thousands of e-books, some of them only available as e-books, all stored on a little thing I can hold in my hand. I transfer them over to whichever device I want to use. No way would I have room for all of those books in physical form.
It is marvelous to have a dictionary in the device and with a few clicks I can look up unfamiliar words as I’m reading. So it helps with vocabulary building and is much less of a distraction than having to put down my book, interrupt whatever I’m reading, finding the dictionary, looking up the word, and probably getting distracted by all of the other words, neighbors to the word I’m looking up…now THAT’s a distraction!
I think that this article will be a relief and a comfort to those who for whatever reason don’t like, or don’t want to like the concept of reading on devices. But I don’t feel that most of the points she tries to make are particularly valid, at least not in my own experience. My daughter sure loves her devices, and she has to get really up close and personal with literature because she is a high school literature teacher. I also don’t think that tech vs non-tech is a zero sum game. . It is possible to love both physical books and e-books.
Some books are better as physical books: books with lots of pictures and illustrations, graphs, photographs, etc., mainly because of the size. So I will keep my art, fashion, design, and knitting books. All of my text only books I’m getting rid of because of the space.
Critiques of reading on devices I think are as much about trying to make people who resist the technology feel better about not getting on the bandwagon as they are about anything. The solution is simple, for those who prefer to limit themselves to only one of the many choices available, they should do so. Personally, I like having more choices rather than fewer.