I can't even handle all the ado about eBooks!
While this is really out of my personal scope, I ran across this blogpost with a solution to the whole mess, that seems like it would be better for everyone in the long run. Which, of course, means it probably won’t happen.
All of that is a bit off-topic, but I am interested in the ramifications of technology on reading. I thought others might be, as well. Apologies if you’re not interested in that. What I really wanted to write about was my limited experience with eBooks.
Once again on a search for a slightly saucier book, I turned this time to my library’s online collection of eBooks. I do not have an eReader, only my smart phone, so I’m afraid that’s the only way I’ve been able to read eBooks so far. I must say, I’m not terribly impressed. Perhaps I’m missing out because I do not have the “E ink” like on Nooks or Kindles, but my eyes do seem to get tired more quickly reading on my phone rather than printed words. True, reading in the dark is easier, but I still prefer the “feel” of my eyes after reading printed pages with a lamp than the glow of my phone.
To be fair, when I lived in a city with public transportation, I did download a few collections of short stories that I could read while waiting for aforementioned transport. This came in particularly handy when I forgot to carry a real book with me. I can certainly see how that’s a fun feature. However, if i had a real eReader, I’d probably still have the same forgetting problem.
Perhaps the biggest thing eReaders have going for them is the ability to store so many books on such a light-weight device. For those of use who tend to read multiple books at once, or fast readers going on vacation, this would be a big selling point. Look at all that space you just saved in your purse/luggage! They are so thin and lightweight, even the most monogamous reader would save space carrying an eReader over a normal book.
The thing that bothers me the most is the “lack of spatial navigability
,” or the fact that it’s difficult if not impossible to remember at what location in the book you read a particular passage. I had no idea how often I used this particular function of my brain until I began reading eBooks. I use this quite a bit when doing research. I’ll read a book. Then when I wish to go back to a particular quote, I merely flip back through book because I can remember about how far along in the book the quote was, and I can almost always remember where on the page. I even do this now for blogging or book recommending purposes. However, this is impossible to do with an eBook. True, spatial memory may be more attainable with a real eReader, since one would have a larger screen and more division on the page. However, I am unconvinced that navigability would work as well in electronic over print form. On the other hand, perhaps text searching would make this issue null. Back to the first hand, what if you remembered the general idea of a passage, but not the exact wording? Then text searching would be of no help.
I am even more concerned about spatial navigability when it comes to eReaders in the classroom. Several schools have started giving kids eReaders instead of textbooks. I am particularly curious about how this study will turn out: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/middle_school_students_in_sout.html
Although, I’m not entirely sure if that study will include reading comprehension or just reading time in general.
I did read the eBook at a quicker pace, and I have heard others talk about that particular benefit of eBooks. I’ve even met some people who did not read for pleasure before, but do now because they got an eReader. I remain skeptical, however. I wonder if their new-found love of reading is actually that they like reading, or just that they like new technology and this will die down. (Much akin to when a kid gets a shiny new toy.) I hope not. As concerned as I am about some of the finer points about learning involved with eReaders, I would much prefer people read more in whatever capacity than less.
Personally, reading at a faster pace and carrying ease does not make up for the issues I have with eBooks, or at least eBooks on my smartphone. As the song
says, I carry spines. At least for now.
I’d really like to hear from you all. Let the discussion begin! Have any of you come to a decision about eBooks? Do you have particular favorite devices or features? Is there a reason you will always stay with print? Do you prefer print for some books and electronic for others? Are there any interesting articles or studies you have read about eBooks?