"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Print or e-reader?

I am a holdout. I do not own an e-reader.

When I talk about books I picture the print edition with the cover the publisher selected for it. When I go to the pool or take a bath, I worry about keeping the book dry.

And speaking about worrying, I worry about is happening to the publishing industry and for our nation when this industry can no longer afford to publish print editions of books. Will children even bother to learn to read if they don't have a book to hold?

When I traveled to Europe this summer I lugged along three books in my suitcase, so did my daughter. We swapped them around with each other and then left them behind when we were done with them. When we started our week-long vacation last Friday I had four books in tow and hoped that would be enough to get me through the week.

Friends always tell me that they love their e-reader and gush how much less books cost in this format. That might be the case, but I generally don't buy books for myself. I check-out library books or audiobooks. That means I get the books for free. I know that the library also has e-books to check-out, but that is beside the point.

There is actually some scientific evidence that we retain more information when we read text on paper compared to what we retain from what we read in the digital format. Maryanne Wolfe, a developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist from Tufts University says, "there is physicality in reading, maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading---as we move forward with perhaps too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, and know when to use the new."

In an interview with Huffington Post, author Lev Grossman said this about whether he preferred print or e-books:
Print. I'm very crusty on this issue. When I die I want to leave my kids a roomful of books, not a chunk of plastic that they have to guess the password to. I think Maurice Sendak said it best: 'It's like making believe there's another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of sex. There isn't another kind of book.'---Huffington Post, August 5, 2014
I feel the same way. When we die I guess we could hand off our e-reader to our children and grandchildren but there is something much more compelling about a library full of old family favorites. But it is more than just sentimentality for me.

Hasn't anyone read a Sci-Fi book where no one knows how to read anymore because all information comes directly into our brain from feeds? And in those books, what happens to societies when their people stop reading. It is never good.

Plus, what happens if in real-life, not sci-fi novels, some catastrophe causes massive power outages for days/weeks on end. What will people read when their e-reader batteries die? You get my point.

So, having said all this, does it come as a surprise to you that I am seriously considering getting an e-reader?

Why, you might ask, would I want to buy one since I am so clearly standing on my principles on this subject?

Well, truth be told, it is for a purely selfish reason. I want an ARC version of a book that is due out in October. I've been told the publisher will likely only give it to me in the e-book version. But procrastination is still on my side and I haven't actually purchased an e-reader, yet. If I delay much longer there will be no point because the book in question will already be out in print. When I borrow it from the library I will worry about keeping it dry in the event of a rainstorm.

Your thoughts?


  1. I'm a print AND e-reader person. I generally use the library for my check outs although I've been known to be seduced by the amazon one click ordering. When I travel, I load up my tablet with books so that I will have plenty to read and in case I don't like something I've brought; I'm generally a back pack traveler, thus it's not practical to haul actual books. Most books I don't keep anyway, so an e-reader is perfect for that. If I want to keep/share a book, I purchase the print copy. In other ways though, I'm pre-historic; have you seen my non-smart cell phone? :)

  2. Oh, and Ashley verifies that it's more difficult to remember information on electronic format. She always wants actual books or printed material for school. I think she's using the kindle fire I bought her a bit for her light reading though.

    1. The article that I highlighted the quote from Maryanne Wolfe goes on to say that there is evidence that it is harder to remember information read from digital sources that paper/print sources. It does seem that we need to think about that in schools when we are so eager to fully embrace technology. Why throw the baby out with the bath water?

  3. I love to have my physical books for sure. But, I can get so many more advanced reader books as e-galleys than I was getting as physical ARCs, so that is what I use my e-reader for.

  4. I go back and forth. I love my e-reader, but there is something really special about the experience of reading a physical book. I will admit that one of my reasons for loving my e-reader is that it's so light - I get really bad hand cramps from holding big hardcovers/paperbacks open for long periods of time! I'm so lame. I also love that I can read ARCs on my e-reader (though I'd much prefer to receive physical ARCs, that just isn't happening).

    1. I have never requested ARCs before so I am new to the whole process. It is looking like I will need an e-reader if I ever intend to get any, however.

  5. I have made a conscious effort to use my e-reader more this year . I don't mind reading on my kindle/iPad, but I still prefer a real book. I have also noticed that with the e-reader just opening right up to the page I am reading, it is harder for me to remember the title of the book I am reading - I never see the title the way I do with a real book I open and close often.
    I have also noticed that some books I just can't seem to get into on an e-reader I have no problem with in book format.

    And you are right- there are so many great ARCs available on NetGalley. Good luck with whatever you choose. I am going to pass along your research to my district that is definitely taken with technology and doesn't seem to care very much about reading.

  6. While I love the portability of e-readers, it just isn't as pleasurable to read on. I love the feel of turning pages, and holding my finger in the next one in the anticipation of getting to the next page. I love the satisfaction of closing the book for the last time when you're done reading and feeling the weight of all the pages I have just read. I don't think I would ever get rid of my cherished books off my shelves just for an e-reader.
    I will say though I rented my first e-textbook this quarter and am kind of loving it. I can now search for words and quickly find important pages and when I come to words I don't know I can click on them and it pulls up a definition for me. But I definitely don't read it with as much commitment as I would a physical book because I know I can always search for the important words later.

  7. I love my e-reader. It's light. And it has a built in dictionary. I still LOVE print books, don't get me wrong, (could never live without the smell of cracking open a NEW book!) but I would never give up my Kindle. Sometimes, I forget I'm reading on the device and reach up to turn the page. (this is a kindle with the eInk, that really looks like print on paper.) Kids and teens love to read on their e-readers. I really think some of them are more likely to read if they can use technology. And, I think Sendak has led a sheltered life, because there are different kinds of sex! Thoughtful post. Thanks.


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