image Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap – Paper or Electronic?

How rapid our world changes. Not so long ago the reality that we could carry a library of books on a small electronic device was perhaps not even a dream for many of us. I love reading. My library is vast and eclectic. I have always dreamt of an old fashioned library where I could store my books in one room. With comfortable reading chair and assorted nicknacks. A place to retire to and lose myself. My reality has been bookshelves loaded in every room. I tend to buy my books and keep them.

Leaving the west I had to make the decision to let go of many books. Including children’s books. Knowing I would get very little for them if I sold or exchanged them, I ended up giving them to a woman’s refuge. Along with bags of kids clothes and toys. My teenagers chose what they wanted to keep. I put many aside in boxes that I could not part with. The latter travelled with me.

I rent a 4 room house, just to myself. Room for visitors, but room for my books too. Although many are still boxed away, I brought out my favourites. Ones I like to refer to. At some time or another. Some I reread. Some I have yet to read or to finish. I haven’t read a novel all the way through, in print copy, for a few years now. It’s on my resolutions list for this year.

My books include my novels. Favourite authors. Reference books on herbs, aromatherapy, crafts, energy medicine, gardening, history, philosophy and personal growth. I tend to have at least a dozen on my favourite subjects. For every author presents a little differently. And rarely do I find one book on a subject that includes everything I want.

I have never been one to read on the computer. Eye strain and back ache simply follow. I’m one of those who hits the print button and reads a document from paper. Habit? Easier on the eyes? Or perhaps the feel of paper in my hands.

With the advent of the iPad, I started to experiment reading on a screen. Downloading e-libraries, I found access to classics, free. I began to explore apps and e-books. Doing my Kinesiology studies I found texts that I could purchase and download to iPad. Wow! How much lighter to carry. Reference material at my fingertips.

Travelling to Bali eighteen months ago, I took a couple of paperbacks. And finished them quickly. Damn! Sitting by the pool I noticed people reading … Kindles! I hadn’t had much interaction with them. No one I knew had one. But I had my iPad. First generation. I decided to try reading on my device. Downloaded a book onto iBooks. And away I went. Wow! I could read at night, the screen backlit. I could adjust the print size and flick the pages easy enough. And I could store more than one book easily and so much lighter.

Returning home I found that I could download Kindle to my iPad. I didn’t need a separate device. And the selection of books available. Texts I had been after for a while. So much lighter and cheaper. Greys Anatomy. Aromatherapy and herb books. Kinesiology and massage and acupressure texts. Spirituality and crystal books. My favourite authors. Ones I hadn’t thought of reading before. A veritable bookshop right there in my home.

And so I began to download. But iPad can be rather heavy and cumbersome. After moving to Brisbane I decided I wanted a Kindle too. Smaller, lighter weight, I had to purchase a cover with in built light. The screen is not backlit. At some time I decided iPad 1 was too cumbersome and heavy. I upgraded to version 2 and passed version 1 to my son. My daughter had been given a Kindle for Christmas.

My collection on Kindle continues to grow. I tend still to read on iPad rather than Kindle device. Kindle is black and white. Art books are best in colour, as are many texts. I read them, refer to them, on iPad. Yet I still read print.

Not all magazines are electronically available. And honestly, I prefer them in print. The feel of flipping the glossy pages. The ease on my eyes. Pure enjoyment. I still continue to purchase paper backs at times. Not all books are available electronically.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending Book Fest. A veritable collection of used and old books for sale at ridiculously low prices. I went with my girlfriend and her husband. We each brought back a shopping trolley full. These books are not available electronically. Nor would I choose them electronically. The beauty is in the aged paper. Old beautifully decorated covers. Prints inside can never be brought to justice electronically. They are, collectables. They sit amongst my modern books. A pleasure to behold. Most I will never read. The pleasure is in their feel, their visual delight. Knowing that they are pre-loved.

Could I choose which type of media I prefer to read? No. Neither one only. Both have merit. Both have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. In fact I have a small selection of books that are on both media. Because they are my favourites. And because I like to access them on the go as well as sitting in comfort to read at home. What I choose now on Kindle are works that are hard to get in the rapidly diminishing bookshops. Those that are cumbersome. Those I like to refer to. Those that are by far cheaper electronically. And new novels.

I would never see my selection of print books go. They are precious in many ways. Tangible, meaningful, with history and personality. Electronic books can never provide that. What I have electronically is purely for ease of access. And the delightful fact that I can carry my library with me wherever I go.

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Weekly Writing Challenge Mind The Gap theme this week is how do we prefer to read … Digital or Paperback ..

6 comments

  1. Wow! Someone else who prints things off the computer to read!

    I totally relate to this post. My Kindle is so convenient and its library is growing … but nothing beats the feel, look, and smell of real paper. Nothing beats the feel of one on paper either … but that is impossible to share in a blog!

    Great post.

  2. I love this post – you have the same feel for printed, coloured and aged books as I have. I will never let go. I have also reread some of my old children’s books/youngster’s books to discover new angles and thoughts about them. Often I remember the feeling I had when I read them as a girl and after all my years of living and my university studies in literature – they come back to me in another shape, with another message or depth. I believe everybody should try this. I guess you do, but many people never reread anything at all.

    • oh there are some books i have re-read many times .. each time thinking to take it slower but i still plow through πŸ™‚ and thankyou for your lovely comment πŸ™‚

  3. I am with you on all counts, love my physical books, think iPad 1 is bulky but like the convenience of lots of books in one place. I read one chapter of one book then open another and do the same, have usually 4-5 on the go at one time.

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