Friday, May 31, 2013

Physical VS. Digital

Hello again! Today I am graduating and can hardly believe it! So here's a post to hold you over until next time I come around. I have joined a few websites that give out free books in exchange for honest reviews, so be on the lookout for new book reviews, but I'll say more on that later. On with the post. . .

I am not the first to contemplate whether or not hard copies or ebooks are better. Is there really a right or wrong answer? Of course not. But what are my preferences?

I love both. Actually, I love books. Stories are one of my favorite things, whether it's a movie, a song, a video, a novel. . . My heart flutters and my pulse picks up when I think about books, whether it is the novel I'm reading or the story churning around in my head. They are one of the things that can put me on a creative, escapist high.

Stories are powerful.

What does it matter whether I am crouched over my Kindle screen, nibbling anxiously on my lip, or crawled up in a chair, madly turning pages as I devour my current read? A story is a story. A book, a book. No matter the form, right?


But it's also allllllllll about the experience. The one thing we have to do for authors (or any of our other creators in the world), is cut them some slack. When it comes to reading and reviewing a book, the author's "skills" are merely at the whim of what we are feeling before, during, and after our read. Quite a bit of the matter of whether or not their work goes well with readers is left to chance. I could be tired and having trouble focusing, and will then be completely turned off by the book I am reading. That is why the form in which I read a book can play such a big part, it can either enhance or hurt the experience.

There is something that just can't compare to holding that physical copy in your hand. You can get the smell of the paper and ink, the feel of it against your fingers, the shifting weight in your hands as you read through page by page. There is something about that paperback, that hardback, that novel in your hands that grabs you and says, "Here, here is what you are reading. What's owning your time, what belongs to you right now. Here is where your mind is going. Here are the pictures, the people, the places you are discovering. . ." Can any other readers agree with me?

Reading in the car, something I do ALL the time.
Then you have your eReader devices, mine for example is the Kindle Touch. Let me tell you: Don't shrink back, clinging to that book in your hands. You are not betraying it, leaving it to collect dust, disregarding the pleasures it has given. . . You are embracing a completely new form of reading, much different and yet completely the same. 

This is where you must remember a book is a book. Reading on a Kindle or eReader does not change what you are reading, but it does alter the experience. Which has a huge effect in itself. The eReader is light, slim, portable. It gives you the luxury to carry hundreds of stories with you at a time, the comfort of highlighting and bookmarking with ease. I so much enjoy taking a huge chunk of my library with me where ever I go. The Kindle works for me because I am nearly addicted to stories, and I want to have at least one with me where ever I go. My mood shifts and changes often (don't believe me? Ask my boyfriend. Or my family. They'll vouch for that.) and I prefer to read a book when I am in the mood for the story it holds. Bringing my Kindle along allows me to choose between a number of reads, and I am not stuck with a book that turns out to not hold my interest.

Also, being the person I am, I like to bring quite a few "necessities" with me where ever I go. And yet I also like to take as little to nothing as I can. I know, that's a bit of an oxymoron. Most times bringing my Kindle enables me to stuff my wallet and notebook and pens into my purse (without having to change to my small backpack). Which I often resort to, so I can bring the book or two that I am reading, and the notebook, and my wallet, and some pens, and chapstick, and whatever else I wanted to bring. My boyfriend can vouch for that as well, he's not the only one who has seen me with a small purse and a separate bag with books (that way I can have them with me but also leave in the car if I don't need them), or my small backpack so I can just haul it all around anyway. I have two backpack purses actually, courtesy of my grandmother who gave them to me. 

Back to Physical VS. Digital! What it all comes down to is preference. As quite a lot of things do. I highly recommend that readers, especially avid ones, do not cross out eReaders because they only read physical copies. My Kindle has been one of the best means of reading for me. Physical copies are intoxicating with so many of the senses appeased in one sitting, but eReaders are not without satisfaction.

I think eReaders rely more heavily on being visually appealing and convenient. I would not trade my bookshelf for all the eBooks I could ever want because I would miss holding and owning something physical and that I could touch; there is a certain security for me when I can hold a book in my hand without the worry of a dying battery or electronic malfunction risking taking it away. But reading digitally, especially on eReaders that don't have backlights (that causes some strain to my eyes and definitely distracts me from feeling like I am escaping away and reading), is wonderful. Plus, they save on paper, ink, and other resources. (Sorry, had to have my tree-hugger moment.)

I prefer both experiences because they both have so much to offer. When I am going out for a vacation or a long car ride, the first thing I want to check off my mental list and grab is my Kindle. Other times, I want to crawl into bed and pick up the paperback on my nightstand. I say, it's all about the experience. What are you in the mood for? Answer that question, but give digital readers a chance. They're worth it.

Do you prefer physical or digital?
Give me your real opinion!
I seriously want to know, even if it stokes a few agitated, opinionated embers.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that the entirety of mankind has found itself in a digitized, electronic world filled with the ease of access afforded by electronics. We've all become lazy in a way and a lot of the arts are falling by the wayside now that so many things can be done via the computer, iPod, or other electronic device. No longer is a library necessary now that we can Google our question and receive the answer in .17 seconds, as Google so proudly proclaims after each search. Just the same, personal letters no longer make their way to and fro across the nation now that we have e-mail; and even phone calls are becoming rarer now that texting takes a fraction of the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for the digitized world we live in and absolutely adore movies, the ability to type papers on the computer (my handwriting leaves a lot to be desired), and the easy access I have to music via my Ipod. However, when it comes to something like an electric piano or ebook vs a real piano or physical book the win will always go to the physical version that you don't have to plug in. Sure, you can't lug around a 300lb piano with you wherever you go or bring your entire library on a joyride, but the music made by a piano that is made of wood and strings hit by hammers produces a feeling, an energy that pulses through the musician and permeates the atmosphere around it - something that can't be reproduced by the synthetic notes of an electric keyboard. In the same way, an ebook doesn't give the reader the same engrossing pull that a tangible copy does. As you said in your above post, the actual smell of paper and ink engages all the senses literally drawing the reader into an alternate world. Though I too have quite the library on my iPod, I must confess that I have never begun reading a book on my iPod and then looked up when I've finished, bewildered at how three hours could pass so soon. A book is a time machine - a screen isn't. For me it comes down to this: digital is about access, physical is about the experience.