Books are magical. They take me into other worlds, and increasingly into the mysteries of the past, in a way that transports me and consumes my mind. But I find I am facing a dilemma – digital or paper? ephemeral or tactile?When I say digital I am talking about the Kindle – but both the actual Amazon kindle device and the Kindle app on my iPad and iPhone. I switch back and forth – the Kindle device when outside in the sun, the iPad when on a plane.
Back and forth… the pros and cons:
+ Digital has the weight advantage. In my suitcase, or in my briefcase, I can “carry” the 4-5 books I have on the go at any point in time in one device. I need to travel with my iPad for work, and to catch up on TV shows, and of course I always have my iPhone. But then, if I am traveling on vacation where I will be in the sun I end up taking all three devices…
– Paper has the memory advantage. I’m relieved to learn this is not just for me (I assumed it was because I learned to read with paper books) – and now we know that “Reading in print helps with comprehension” brilliantly described here. It’s the tactile experience, the thickness and feel of the book as you progress through, the ability to flip back a few pages to remind yourself. We are, in the end, tactile beings. I find I have a really hard time remembering the details I read electronically. I can remember from a paper book – I remember the visual of the information on the page – and I can also retain when I listen (I love Audible). But not when reading on a screen.
+ In line reference makes the digital experience richer. Because I read 100% history books I am always wanting to look up references: locations, the etymology of words, people… and when reading a paper book I find myself picking up my phone to find reference information. When reading on my iPad I can find the reference in line.
– Paper books don’t have email in them. A big challenge with the iPad is my email is live. It’s too tempting to quickly check, even when on vacation or trying to relax on a long flight. This is an advantage of the Kindle device on a beach. But I still have to make myself leave my phone in my beach bag and not take it out!
– Paper books are more relaxing. I can read a paper book all day. 9am to 7pm no problem (if I can step off the work grid for that long – a much bigger challenge). Any electronic device, in the end, is tiring to read. Especially late at night.
So in the end I am giving in. I’ll end up buying both paper and electronic for the books I want to travel with, but I find my reading pleasure is in my old fashioned books, especially hardback copies. And, as you can see here, my stack is totally fascinating – or if you’re one of my kids “that’s boring Mom – you’re obsessed!”