Margaret Ann Spence Coming Home

The eBook vs. the “Real” Book

There is no question that the invention of the word processor enabled people to write more easily and quickly. Correction becomes a breeze with a tap on the keyboard. Revision leads to better writing. But the invention of the e-reader has not had such a happy result. Electronic readers have increased reading, probably, and have certainly democratized publishing. All that is to the good. But the actual reading device is now on an “improvement” kick that has diminishing returns. I almost lost it when I purchased a new Kindle last month. I was buying an average of two books a week to read on the Kindle. Then I stupidly left mine on a plane. So I ordered a replacement. I bought the Kindle Paperwhite. I chose this device because it has better lighting, and I need bright light to read. I found the new device almost impossible to use. There are no navigator buttons. This Kindle came with no instructions. Even if there were instructions, I could not access them with this ipad- like interface. I don’t need a keyboard. But navigator buttons, such as “Menu” or “Home”, “Forward” and “Back,” which were on my old Kindle, actually helped. I am lost without them. I learned to read when I was six years old and have been an avid reader and writer ever since. For most of my life, it was good enough to be able to buy or borrow a book, open the pages and read till the end. Then Kindle came along and opened a way to read many more books – and yielded Amazon a very nice profit. That is fine. Until the customer is forced to buy an updated model. In the end, my in-house technical director, my husband, came home and showed me how to use the new Kindle. We registered it. But I find that I am buying more and more books the old fashioned way. That is, books on real paper. I like to see where I am in the book – by page number, not by percentage of book read. I like to be able to go back – easily – and reread a particularly striking passage. I like to deconstruct books to see how they are put together. I can share them with others, I can give them away, and I can exchange them for other books at our wonderful local independent bookstore, Changing Hands. All that, paperbacks and hardbacks make it easy to do. I am not alone. My wonderful webmaster, Kristen Burkhart, sent me an article this morning. Do read it. My point exactly. Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books What do you think?