I recently came across this article from NYT Book Review about how ebooks change the reading experience. I hoped to find scientific information about how our brains might react to ebooks versus printed materials. But I found two writers’ opinions about the different media.
The contributors, Moshin Hamid and Anna Holmes, begin by listing some positives about ebooks: portability of the whole library, ability to read at night, search features, variable text size, etc. Then, both writers mention ebooks’ detractions, which basically boil down to too many potential distractions. Both say they prefer to read paper books.
The writers are entitled to their opinions. I may disagree that their stated reasons for disliking ebooks are valid. After all, you can control the level of distraction by adjusting the settings on your ereader, as Hamid mentioned. Still, they are totally free to dislike ebooks and read paper books. They can spend their money however they choose and read whatever medium they prefer.
But then there’s this statement by Holmes:
When my second book was released this past October, I told anyone who would listen not to buy the electronic version. (emphasis added)
Why would she do this? She continues:
This was not so much a dig at the publishing house production managers who converted my creation into e-book form as it was an acknowledgment of the medium’s many limitations. You see, no matter how fancy the refinements made…an e-book offers little promise of discovery or wonder. Browsers may be ubiquitous in our e-portal age, but an e-book doesn’t encourage actual browsing. Read more here.
So she doesn’t find wonder in ebooks? Okay. That’s fine by me.
But what if I do? I’m a reader too. Don’t I get to decide which version of a book to purchase and peruse? Let me read according to my needs and desires.
Honestly, I don’t understand why so many people write about this subject, even me. I mean, this is stupid. If you like paperbacks and hardcovers, they aren’t going anywhere. You’ll still be able to get them. Buy them and read them. If you like ebooks, then buy and read those.
But let’s agree on this: You don’t command me to change my reading preferences to match yours, and I’ll return the favor.