The Lure of Hard Copy
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Hard copy may be going the way of 8-track tapes. Physical books are being dissed in favor of electronic formats. The cost of publishing hard copy books is increasing even as the sales of e-books climb. E-readers and tablets are competing fast and furiously, from Kindles to Nooks to iPads. In the newest announcement, Target department stores are now offering Kindles for sale.

However, for me, e-readers do not replace physical books so easily. I enjoy the familiar rhythm of turning pages. I delight in re-reading a book and discovering a highlighted passage that spoke to my heart the first time I read it. The joy of holding an old friend is as much a part of my reading experience as the actual words on the page.

It’s not that I am adverse to change. I embrace it…quicker than some, though perhaps not as quickly as others. Strides in technology enable me to surf the internet and gain access to vast libraries of resources regardless of the time and without leaving my desk. Bible study is more convenient, too. I have several versions of the Bible on my computer and I do admit it’s helpful to type in a single word and watch a dozen verses spring up on the screen.

Still, nothing compares with the ability to flip through well-worn pages to find exactly the right verse as I look to the precise spot on the page where I know it will be. And even though an e-reader can hold hundreds of titles, when I want to read a novel, curling up with just one favorite book is more than enough for me.

Am I romanticizing a tool whose time is waning? Maybe.
Will I eventually enjoy the benefits of using an e-reader? Probably.

Until then, I will treasure the contents of my physical bookshelves even as I continue to adjust to a virtual world.

What do you think? If you own an e-reader, do you prefer it to physical books?

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6 Comments

  1. AVA:

    Well-spoken. Like you, I grew up with the love of book-in-hand. But now, I’ve got an arthritic wrist, and my Kindle is a god-send … and I’ve discovered my love is not so much for the book as it is for the words sculpted within.

    The future of e-readers? Check out Star Trek / Next Gen: Their “23rd century” pads already have been overtaken by early 21st century technology. I suspect that, by the time my grandson gets arthritis, the e-book’s supremacy will have been supplanted by some form of ESP-driven device.

    Ed Swartley, author
    “When Did I Become the Oldest Person in the Room”

    Comment by Ed Swartley — May 5, 2010

  2. I agree. There’s nothing quite like feeling the pagesof a book as you becomemore engrossed in theauthor’s thoughts and word pictures. E-readers are convenient (and fun), but I like the feel of a book!

    Just a thougt…I wonder how people felt about the transition from scrolls to the printed page?!

    Comment by Nina Wood-Charles — May 5, 2010

  3. Ed – technology has certainly surpassed what was once considered fantasy. Each new development has its advantages, although I don’t think I’m quite ready for ESP devices!

    Comment by avapennington — May 5, 2010

  4. Nina – what a fun question! Can you imagine comments such as, “These newfangled books will never catch on. Give me good, old-fashioned papyrus any day!” 🙂

    Comment by avapennington — May 5, 2010

  5. Personally, I like the feel of a good piece of charcoal on the virgin white wall of a limestone cave.

    Comment by Ed Swartley — May 5, 2010

  6. Ava,
    This is fun reading the comments. All good points. I don’t look at it as one or the other. Each has a place and time for me, much like watching a movie versus reading a book. I listen to books on tape when my eyes need a break, or I am working at a mind-numbing task. The time goes faster – and I enjoy a good read. Other times, such as on vacation on a hammock on the beach in the breezy shade, I enjoy letting my imagination go in a good book in my hands. Often times I will fall asleep, but that is part of the experience.

    By the way, I am sure there are still some people who use papyrus occasionally.

    Comment by Sharon Sherman — June 27, 2010

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