Today I’m taking a very literature-related approach to the Daily Prompt. I am a big fan of paper books. I have never read through an e-book in my life, and I never plan to buy any. There is a whole experience to be had when you read books. As for me, I had just started reading ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson, the story on which ‘The Matrix’ was based on, but I had to put it away because I found it too dense a read for what I wanted. That’s an experience too, and not all experiences with books have to be positive ones.
However, sometimes negative experiences can lead into more positive ones. For instance, after I put down ‘Neuromancer’ I picked up ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole which, for the record, is a laugh-out-loud, down right hilarious book which, on several occasions even just in the first twenty pages I laughed out aloud!
I think that e-books lack half of the experience. Half of the experience is buying or picking up a book for the first time, smelling it, enjoying the size of it, the colour of it, the font, the thickness of it – these all make up part of the grand experience of reading a book. However some people I’ve talked to are convinced that e-books will take over at some point, on the basis that they are convenient, easy to carry around and easy to buy. But what I think would be interesting is what effect this would have on people.
If I could fast forward to a specific time I would fast forward to the time when (if it so happens to exist) when e-books “take over”, because I would primarily like to see what people get out of an e-book compared to a paper book. Reading books is a learning process, and there is so much to learn! But I wonder if the general experience, or lack of, has an effect on what we learn from a book.
Here are my thoughts. I remember as a kid I would go up to my bookshelf every night and pick up the oversized ‘Encyclopaedia of the History of the World’ and lay it on my pillow to read through. Even at a young age when I could only look at the pictures, these images and words that carried within a fountain of knowledge would helped me tremendously when I started school (notably on the history side of things!). Now would the same thing have happened if I had been reading it in e-book form? I don’t think so. Reading off a screen at night, firstly, does not help you get to sleep – your brain is buzzing around with excitement from the bright lights! If I had been reading from, say, a Kindle at that age, I would have been far more tired which would result in lack of concentration, etc.
Even though these are just small things, cumulatively they make a pile of problems. I don’t think you can enjoy e-books nearly as much as a real paper book – I think there could be a whole fountain of knowledge going to waste, and I certain don’t think, even if I saw the future with my own eyes, that e-books are the way forward.