Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: A Feeling Worth Waiting For

I have a nook, and last Christmas I received an iPad, and yes I do use both of these tools to read books.  I'll admit the nook is getting pretty lonely these days, as I prefer to read on the iPad when given the choice.  This post however, is not about reading on the iPad or any e-reader in fact, it's about reading a physical book. I don't mind reading on my digital devices, in some cases I prefer it, but there are times that I want that physical book, and that is a feeling worth waiting for. 

The beauty of the ebook is that is can be delivered instantaneously to you where ever you are.  All you need is an internet connection and you can instantly bring the bookstore to you.  You don't need to drive across town in 100 degree weather to get your book, or wait days for the mail to arrive.  Within seconds that book can be on your device and you can jump into the story.

So why, in this digital age where books are available in seconds, would I choose to go to a bookstore or even order books through the mail and wait days for them when I could have them in my hands in a matter of seconds?  Because, no matter how much I enjoy the speed and ease with which I can get those digital books, there is still something to be said about holding that physical book in my hand.

Any of us know that the portability of an e-reader is amazing--you can take your whole library with you on vacation.  Try doing that with physical books!  Still I have to admit, there are many books that I choose to purchase in their physical form, and I am willing to wait days for them to arrive, because in these cases, form is more important to me than convenience.  There are just some books I want to hold in my hand, feel the weight of the book, turn the pages (or quickly flip through them), and just sit back and enjoy. 

Why are there some books where I need to have physical copies and others books that I don't care whether the copy is digital or not?   This is a question I have asked myself a million times--really what is the difference?  Why did I choose to order a book online and wait days for it when I could be reading it right now on my iPad?  Do you want to hear the crazy answer?  Because the books I want to spend the most time with are the books I need to have in their physical form.  Books I am planning to study from, books I will want to refer back to, and books that I know I will read over and over again are books that I want in physical form. 

In some ways this is counter intuitive--why would I want a physical book that can be damaged with multiple uses instead of the digital book which will last forever (theoretically).  Because the format makes it easier for me to reread sections, to flip through the pages, and find my favorite parts again or to just study single passages. 

As I was writing this I realized how poorly I would do in the digital age.  So many kids are now starting Kindergarten (yes Kindergarten) and are required to use iPads.  These kids will access their text books, and readings via iPad, and study on the iPads.  I don't think I am suited for this new digital world, because I need the physical book when I study--I want to be able to quickly flip through pages to find passages that I read before.  Oh, I know I could use the search function and find the passage quickly, but that isn't the point. 

I have always felt that digital technology is somewhat disposable.  Think about it, we delete millions of disposable emails each year, and honestly, I only read half of what is sent to me.  Send me a letter, and I will read it, and probably keep it for a while--when I didn't think twice about deleting your email.  It is the permanence of something put in physical print that attracts me to a physical book.  This book is real, it has substance, and I can experience it in a way and with more senses than I will ever be able to with a digital disposable book.

So which books do I read in physical form and which in digital?  It's simple, the ones I care about, the ones I want to keep, refer back to, and seriously learn from can not be digital for me, they have to have substance and be physical. 

I will still love my ebooks, but they aren't the books that I will be reading 20 years from now.  Those physical books that I wait days for in the mail, or seek at bookstores are worth waiting for, because for me they will stay will me longer than my digital copies--long after the book has fallen apart.

How about you?  How do you decide which books to buy physical copies, and which digital?

4 comments:

  1. While I do have an iPad and a Nook, I never buy ebooks unless they're indie books that ONLY come in ebook format. Otherwise, I buy all my books at the bookstore. I love having physical copies and I love being able to look at those books on my shelves as if they're a piece of art work. I look at books with gorgeous covers like they're expensive Picassos. Ebooks will never be able to replace my gorgeous physical books and I would much rather have those than thousands of e-copies. Great post!

    Anna @ Literary Exploration

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love my physical books too! For me the physical book is a symbol of permanence--I own the book and no computer glitch can take it away from me. Who can really own a digital book? I like your approach to only using the ebooks for the indies that are only published that way.

      Delete
  2. I completely agree. I love reading on my iPad (while my Kindle fire collects dust) but there are certain books I must *own* and hold in my hands.
    I would always prefer a physical copy but honestly it's cheaper and faster to download for books I'm not so sure about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the cheaper and faster part--and the ones I am uncertain about are the ones I tend to purchase in e format. Your comment has made me think though--especially the cheaper part. It seems that there are some fiscal choices here as well that I didn't think about. When I purchase a physical book I do so knowing that I am most likely going to pay more for it. hmmmm...

      Delete

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