I may be a little late to the party, but recently, I have been wanting to join in on the discussion among book lovers about whether they preferred books or eReaders (electronic reading devices and apps).
Since their appearance on the market a little more than a decade ago, eReaders have steadily gained in popularity, thus creating a discussion among avid readers that would have been considered science fiction in the decades prior.
It warms the cockles of my heart to see the passion with which individuals explain perfectly valid reasons for their preferred option. I also find the deep loyalty with which they express their preference to be charming, magical and absolutely convincing as I can relate to every word.
Where both camps meet in the middle is in their articulation of love of the written word and for reading in general, which is a joy in itself.
The reason I am only jumping into the conversation now is because of my recent realization that my own preference has changed a couple of times, depending on other factors.
Back when I was commuting daily by bus, I had loads of time on my hands. When I wasn’t listening to music and watching the scenery go by, reading was something that helped me to pass the time as well as to decompress from a heavy work day.
However, there were limitations to what I could bring with me. A heavy hardcover book was out of the question. With a messenger bag already pretty full with healthy food choices and a few necessities in case of emergency, adding a heavy book could have easily had me walking with a distinct tilt and risking additional visits to the chiropractor.
The eReader app on my iPad was an appreciated solution to this problem. Because I was already carrying an iPad to use my commuting time as constructively as possible, drafting the next blog post, replying to emails and keeping up with friends on social media, being able to access books on the same device was life changing.
But in the last few years where my commuting patterns changed due to the relocation of my office, I was no longer commuting to work by bus, but I was driving instead. With a car, the amount of cargo I transported was no longer a factor, but my eyes had to be on the road rather than in a book. That being the case, I wasn’t devouring books at the same pace.
Just the same, reading did find its place back in my routine, while sipping my morning coffee and at bedtime. It took longer to finish a book, but it’s not like I was ever in a race against time.
But circumstances (and my reading habits) changed again under Covid-19.
Working from home on a full-time basis, doing more tasks via my computer (rather than through in-person meetings or working off paper documents), I found myself staring at the computer screen more than I did at the office. By the end of the workday, the last thing I wanted in my face was another glowing computer screen.
I know that eReaders and eReader apps provide enormous flexibility with options to change the font, the font size, the brightness, and the contrast, to customize the reading experience and to make it incredibly comfortable.
But without really realizing it, I was gravitating to hardcover and paperback books again. And without having to commute to the office, I had reclaimed that time for reading again and was gobbling up books at my usual reading speed.
How long will this pattern last, no one can say for sure. But it is wonderful to know that reading can remain a constant, with the wonderful options available to us, including audio books.
Should I ever start travelling again and have oodles of time to burn in an airport or on a plane, I probably would go back to reading from my iPad and save my back from the weight of extra books.
In the great debate between books and eReaders, I would never say someone is wrong in their preference. Having seen it from both sides, I truly see the merits of books and eReaders in varying circumstances.
We are incredibly lucky that technology offers us a convenient option to read anywhere, anytime, without carrying extra bulk. At the same time, nothing can replace the tactile experience of reading a book cover to cover and literally gasping as you turn the pages.
Either way, the book versus eReader debate stems from a deep love, admiration and appreciation of books, regardless of how someone enjoys them, and after changing my own mind a couple of times, I think it is fair to say that everyone is right.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,