Friday, January 23, 2015
The Joy of Paper
I left my boots behind and headed back to sunny Southern California. For the whole plane ride home I was surrounded by sneezing and coughing, but I seemed to have made through without catching whatever all those people had. Yay!
Usually, I read a People magazine, do the crossword puzzle in it and then crochet for a while and then it’s time for the plane to land. But this time I was in the midst of reading a book and didn’t buy the magazine. As I flew through the night sky I was lost in a paperback and it made me realize why I like paper books so much more than e-books.
Personally, I find that I retain less when reading anything longer than an article on a screen. The page seems to float in the middle of nowhere, instead of seeing that the page is indeed part of a book. And when I think back to the books I’ve read, in my mind’s eye I see their covers in color. When I think back to the few books I’ve read in an e format, the only image in my mind’s eye are words on a white screen. I barely remember the title of the books or who the authors were, and I have no idea if they even displayed a cover.
Apparently, I’m not alone. I have read several articles that said that people retain less when reading e-books versus paper. And for people who like to read before they go to bed, e-readers can cause problems with their sleep. The light given off by the e-readers makes it take longer to fall asleep, messes with their circadian rhythms and makes them less alert in the morning compared to people reading paper books at bedtime.
The other thing that is downright creepy about e-books is that you are not reading unobserved. Someone out there can tell if you finished a book. And of course, someone is keeping track of what e-books you have bought. You don’t really own the book, but only have a license to read it. You can’t for example pass it on to a bunch of friends unless you hand over your device.
The whole argument about e-readers being so great for the environment because they save trees is kind of absurd. I doubt the batteries in them or all the plastic casing and whatever the screens are made out of is very good for the environment. Think all that pollution in China. And you can make paper out of bamboo which grows so fast you can almost see the shoots get taller.
My reading experience on the plane was great. I was truly lost in the book. There was no screen to go dark if I lingered on a page too long. When I went to the rest room I didn’t have to worry that someone might swipe my tablet or e-reader. (Apparently, stuff disappearing on planes is a real problem. Also if I had happened to drop what I was reading or even accidentally sit on it, I wouldn’t have had to worry about breaking an expensive item. There were no batteries to go dead. Nothing to interfere with the reading experience.
Yes, e-books are nice when you want a certain book right away and it’s the middle of the night. It’s a lot lighter to carry one device loaded with a bunch of books than it is to carry a bunch of paper books, but when it comes to the whole reading experience my first choice is a paper book.