Friday, January 9, 2015

E-Readers vs. "Real Books"

I received my first e-reader as a birthday present when I was a freshman in high school. At first, I was ecstatic about my new Sony E-reader. It was hip, efficient and made me look like an extremely tech-savy bookworm. Unfortunately, my e-reader usage in my high school years gradually decreased due to the annoyance of various teachers over the use of "electronic devices" in class. Although e-readers were forbidden during school hours, I continued reading on my Sony E-reader, and later on Kindle Fire #1, Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire #2.

(Photos taken in our hotel in Orlando; four of the fourteen e-readers we own)

Over the past couple of years, I've had plenty of people ask me whether an e-reader is favorable over reading print books. From personal experience, it seems to be that most people prefer print books, although some avid readers like to switch back and forth depending on what is most useful. In my own family (my mom, two brothers and I all own more than one e-reader), we like to use our e-readers while traveling or taking road trips, as our suitcases tend to drastically increase in weight due to accidental overpacking of hardcover books. If I'm in the mood for zooming through something simple like a chick-lit, using an e-reader is great; I usually read those and forget about them afterwards, unlike literature that actually provokes questioning and reflection.

I would say that overall, I read mostly print books, but not because of the popular opinion that e-readers (and all technology) are pure evil and will take over the printing world. Personally, I find the experience of reading a meaningful book similar to that of a conversation with a close friend. Reading is an intimate act, and that is why most people prefer to read in solitude, in the confines of their own room. When I read a book, I like to be able to touch its pages, to sniff out the old-book smell, and to hold it close to me as if it were my own child. With an e-reader, that intimacy is taken away by its hard shell and the indifferent act of simply tapping on a screen instead of physically turning a page.

So although I usually do carry an e-reader with me in my purse, it will never replace my beloved print books. For if e-readers are my only mode of reading, what will I decorate my beautiful shelves with?

(Photo taken in my living room; one of our many bookshelves)