|Photo credit: I take pictures sometimes.|
In the past I've said that the media doesn't matter—that the important part is the writing and that people are reading, and I still stand by that. What I'm talking about instead are the differences in the actual experience of reading—in the subtle shift from turning pages to swiping screens, in the difference between holding a few hundred pages of paper and holding a thin electronic device. And taking those differences into consideration, I ask you this: which do you prefer to read?
In a way I suppose I'm cheating because while I'm going to ask you for an answer, I don't really have a definitive this or that answer in return. However, there are aspects of each that I've found that I particularly enjoy, and that I'd be happy to share.
My favorite parts of reading print books:
- Texture of the pages. This sounds silly to some people, but every once in a while I come across a book printed on paper with the most gorgeous texture. I'm talking about the sleek, strong pages of the hardcover Harry Potter novels. I'm talking about the ragged-edge, but smooth paper of the hardcover Artemis Fowl series. It's moments like those, when I open up a book and run my fingers across the page of truly remarkable paper that I really love reading print.
- Book smell. I mean, who doesn't love the book smell? Some people love the smell of old books—for me it's the smell of newly printed paper that I can't get enough of. Regardless, the book smell brings back wonderful memories and I will always treasure it.
- Adding books to the shelf. I've probably mentioned this before, but I love collecting books, and one of my all-time favorite moments of reading comes at the very end, after I've finished reading: adding the book to the shelf. There's just something uniquely satisfying about adding a book I've read to my lovely collection and stepping back to admire all of its beauty.
- Looking at the pretty covers. The thing about e-readers is that unless you switch out the covers every time you start a new book, they always have the same nondescript cover. Not so with print books. I always keep a book I'm reading out in plain sight to remind me to get back to it, and there's a simple pleasure to being able to look at the actual book without having to turn on a screen and find it in your virtual library.
My favorite parts of reading e-books:
- Instant gratification. E-readers are magical (and dangerous) devices because all we have to do to get the next new book is press a button. Not thirty seconds later it is available for reading. Doesn't get much better than that.
- Easy reading (literally). I like to read in bed. Or on a sofa cuddled up with blankets. And sometimes I like to scrunch or curl up and when I try to read with a print book, the pages start to fight me a little—they get caught in the blankets, or they flap closed in the middle of a sentence, or the wind makes them flap manically while I'm trying to read, or they scrape against the cushion and rip while I'm trying to turn them (*queue horror music*). E-books aren't so finicky. I can read however and wherever I want to and the pages won't get caught or turn before I'm ready and they are impervious to ninja wind attacks.
- Travel friendly. I don't really need to go into the difference between carrying twenty print books and twenty e-books, do I? I didn't think so.
- Durable. Now I know what some of you are thinking—that print books can survive water and falls a lot better than e-readers can. And I'm not going to argue with that—it's very true. However, I'm one of those people that flips out when I accidentally bend the corner of my paperback book, or when a little water touches (and permanently wrinkles) the pages of my shiny new hardcover, or a scratch appears on the dust jacket of that book I just bought. The nice thing about e-readers is that you can throw them in your bag without having to worry about the cover bending by accident or the pages getting wrinkled. Just don't soak the thing in water or drop it from the Empire State Building.