E-reading versus “p-reading”: Why e-books and print books each have their place

I used to be a book snob.

People would ask me if I read e-books, and I vehemently would reply, “Absolutely not!” My home was an obstacle course of print books stacked on every surface (floors included), thank you very much.

I swore I never would betray my love of “p-reading,” or reading print books, by reading an e-book.

“Never” met an untimely end last Christmas Eve when my sister gave me a Nook.

The smartest technology I owned before the Nook’s arrival was a 5-year-old Dell laptop and a secondhand Nintendo Wii. The Nook is the first touch-screen technology to take up residence in our home.

I was in the crowd of book-loving traditionalists who insist on experiencing the weight of a hardcover and the dusty smell of pages. But my tech-savvy sister was determined to upgrade me to the 21st century. So I fired up the Barnes & Noble device to give it try.

I scrolled through Facebook. I played videos on YouTube. I browsed Amazon. I (think I) successfully downloaded a free trial of a book before handing it over to my husband to play with.

But I didn’t read a book.

A week later, I came across a New York Times Sunday book review titled “How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?” Author Mohsin Hamid and journalist Anna Holmes weighed the pros and cons of e-reading versus p-reading.

“E-reading opens the door to distraction,” Hamid concludes. “It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity.”

Aha! So my years of insisting on reading print books were justified.

Then again — hadn’t I just read that article on my Nook?

During a Facebook session on the Nook, I stumbled across a debate on friend and fellow writer’s profile. The conversation was a tug-of-war over which was better: e-reading or p-reading.

The p-reading crowd was being particularly vocal (and a tad self-righteous) until my friend squashed it by saying, “Stop being so pretentious. Reading is reading, no matter the format.”

Her words resonated. She was right. Reading is reading — if one form can hook a person into a love of literature better than another form, then both clearly have a place.

I decided to give e-reading a try. I downloaded Jodi Picoult’s “The Storyteller” and read my first e-book.

The experience had its pros and cons. The battery had a tendency to die during marathon reading sessions, requiring an extension cord to run from the wall to the bed. The screen would dim or go black if I took too long reading a page. But it was easier to turn pages when the cat claimed my lap and pinned down my right arm — the swipe of a thumb could turn the page without disturbing His Royal Highness.

All in all, though, the experience could be summarized as: it felt like reading.

One benefit I can’t overlook is the price of e-books. I’d had my eye on “The Storyteller” for several weeks but didn’t want to spend the $10.79 for the paperback. Sales and discounts let me download the e-version for $4.99.

After swallowing the initial price of an e-reader, families could realistically download hundreds of books at a fraction of the cost of print books. The potential for bringing more books to children and families gives e-readers a significant place in my heart.

And let’s face it: By the time I have children, they are going to grow up in a technology age. They will have to have some contact, albeit it limited and monitored, with technology. E-reading is a healthy place to start.

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2 Responses to E-reading versus “p-reading”: Why e-books and print books each have their place

  1. trinitygrau says:

    I still refuse to harbor any warmth towards ebooks. However, as a self-publishing author, I’m going to have to start thinking about this. I can’t publish my book as an ebook and then say I hate ebooks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve gone to the “dark side.” I’ve begun embracing e-books as part of the literary platform.

      One undeniable truth, though, is the value of reading print books late at night. Studies show the light from electronic devices disrupts the brain’s ability to wind down and relax and can have a negative impact on sleep patterns. A parenting column by Newsday writer Beth Whitehouse in tomorrow’s local newspaper (*the perks of working at the newspaper: I get to read tomorrow’s edition today) says:

      ***

      ‘“The burst of light from a phone, even if it’s just to check the time, can affect a sleep cycle,” [Dr. Jill Creighton] says.

      Designate a spot in your home for electronics to stay overnight. The spot should be outside the bedroom. “One alternative I love is to put a basket on your dining room table where all electronics are held during nighttime,” Creighton says. The following day’s screen time can be a reward for cooperation, she says.

      ***

      I love that idea of unplugging families at night. I might adopt that plan in our house.

      Like

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