I thought I would post my thoughts on this debate as this is something in my mind a lot at the moment.
I will start by telling you i LOVE books. You’ve guessed that already. I love the smell of books, the feel of the paper, the feeling you get when you take the plunge and open the book fully and you feel the spine of the book crack a little showing everyone that you have read this book. I will also tell you that I love technology, gadgets, widgetry – whatever you may call them!
In April 2012, I bought my first e-reader. I opted for a Kobo for a couple of different reasons (one of them being as girlie as I could get a white one to match my iPad and it had a lilac back!). The main reason for opting for a Kobo was that I could borrow ebooks online from my local library – this actually blew my mind! How clever! I think I could borrow 4 e-books at a time and they would only be viewable for 14days. Before I went on holiday that summer I downloaded 4 books from the library and I bought a couple of 99p ones from the Kobo store. I took 7 books on holiday in total and they all fitted in the back pocket of my jeans! Lying by the pool was fantastic, no book to get wet or suncreamy, No heavy book to hold up, no book mark required. Perfect. I was sold on an e-reader.
From that point until October 2013, I didn’t read any physical books made of paper. Everything was downloaded onto my Kobo. I just loved that I could carry a book with me at all times and it didn’t weigh my bag down, I loved that i could read something and not be judged (yes, I do mean “50 shades of grey” which, by the way, i hated!). I loved that if i fancied a new book I could buy it and have it in seconds without even leaving the house or waiting for the post! And, best of all, I didn’t have tons of books cluttering up my house. Don’t get me wrong, I still owned books – I have all of the “Shopaholic” series and all of the “Adrian Mole” books in paperback.
So, what changed?
Well, actually nothing has changed. I still love reading on my e-reader but I have a kindle now! Things changed for me when I started uni in September 2013. I bought my reference books as physical books for obvious reasons. For one module we have had to read various classic novels and study them in depth. The first I had to read was Robinson Crusoe. I discovered this was free on Kindle (as are most of the classics), and I get student discount with Amazon, so I sold my Kobo and bought a Kindle. This is where I hit an e-book stumbling block. When you want to go back and quote/reference a Kindle book in an essay, it is a nightmare! I decided that from that point on I would buy ALL uni books as physical books and keep my Kindle for enjoyment purposes.
So, back to the question – does reading on an e-reader or reading a physical book change your enjoyment of the reading experience? Up until about 2 weeks ago I would have probably said no. I only have 2 examples prior to this when the story would have benefitted from being read as an actual book:
1. When i read “The night Circus”, i feel it would have been better if i had read that as a book. The chapters jump back and forwards in time and sometimes i wanted to just flick back to the first page of the last chapter to check the date. I know you can do this on a Kindle but it’s not as easy as having a book.
2. Another book I read around the same time as “the night circus” was a book called “the white lie” which had an interesting picture on the front cover. I read it on Kobo and didn’t think anything of it but then another book club member said she was reading on Kindle and didn’t have the front cover and she felt it made a difference. Until that point I hadn’t really thought about the front cover of books before but it did make me think.
That was back then, this is now – what has changed?
For one of my history modules for next year, we have been recommended to read “A place of greater safety” by Hilary Mantel. We can’t use it in essays as it is fiction but it will give us a good overview of the French Revolution. I toyed with buying it on Kindle for £4.99 but, as it is still a uni book, i decided to buy it on paperback for £6.99. When the book came i was gobsmacked! It is HUGE!! It was like a brick came through the letterbox. It is 872 pages! It has taken me about 6 weeks to even open it – partly because I wanted to get my exams etc finished before I took on year 2 work and partly because it’s so big. I started it 2 weeks ago and I am still only 375 pages in. The fact i still have more left to read than i have already read makes me want to cry! don’t get me wrong – I am LOVING the story and the book so far but I can not get past the fact that I am not halfway. If i was reading it on Kindle, the size wouldn’t be an issue because i would just read it and look at the % bar at the bottom. So, in this case, choosing a book rather than an ebook has affected my enjoyment.
Does the “media” used to read a book matter? It depends! It really does. I enjoy reading. Full Stop. I don’t care if i am reading a book, a scrap of paper, a screen, an ebook – I love a story! so for me, no it doesn’t. I have a friend who hates e-readers – even though she has never had one – because she loves the smell and feel of paper. I have another friend who likes that when she downloads a book, no one else can borrow it (I dislike this attitude as i love sharing good books with friends).
Yes, the Kindle tracks your progress. Yes, you can look up words, Yes, you can carry around several books. BUT what you don’t get is the smell and feel of the pages, the sound of turning a page, the weight of a book tiring your arm out, the back cover blurb, the front cover colours and pictures.
So the answer to the question – I feel, is “only if you let it”
I guess I’d best get back to my giant book now……500 pages to go! *cries*