IPads and Nooks and Kindles have gotten more than their share of PR and media coverage. There has been a press battle among them with press releases flying fast and furious. And the media campaigns are working. They’re selling. These e-reader devices are fine for reading magazines. I suppose they could be okay for reading some non-fiction books. But when it comes to reading fiction, there I firmly draw the line. It’s not so much that I’m a Ludite in this arena; it’s that as a reader you lose so much of the essential reading experience when you shift from a book to a shrunken computer. There is a certain romance to reading novels that supersedes merely looking at and digesting words.
I’m an admitted novel junkie. I cannot go to sleep without reading for at least half an hour. And it has to be a novel. Reading non fiction or current affairs as I lie in bed only serves to agitate me. With a novel, I can blissfully drift towards Morpheus.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Before I find myself lying in bed lost in strange and foreign lives and worlds, I need to choose the book. Here too, I admit to being old school. I actually go to bookstores. Not only do I go, I do so with the same enthusiasm as a five year old goes to a toy store. It’s an outing, an experience, an adventure. I never know what I’ll find and seldom go with any particular book in mind. I browse, pick up the various books, study the covers, and touch the pages, read some pages; it’s a totally sensual experience and not simply a visual one. You touch books, feel them. Books have a scent. You can read them aloud and make it an experience that touches all of the senses. Reading novels is not simply about the words, but about the experience of choosing, holding and being engulfed by a book.
If the focus is on how many volumes you can carry in a particular device and how quickly you can read a particular book, I’d say you’re losing a good deal of the joy.
There are people who like to figure out the most practical and least time consuming ways to eat; people who have shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They get their nutrients, their calories, but, at least from my perspective, they’ve lost quite a bit in that bargain.
And that is not unlike what I fear we’re losing when it comes reading. It’s meant to be a sensual experience. The focus is not supposed to be on transferring information from a machine into your brain. The physical book, with its specific size, layout, cover, graphics, font and paper, is all a part of the total experience.
I suppose it’s an experience that is losing ground, as e-books and various pads and devices flourish. Oh, well, I hold on to my book mania. Plus, at least on my end, I really don’t have much of a choice. You see, I often fall asleep while I’m reading, drifting off as I’m lost in a novel. And, there are times, when said book falls from my hands to the floor. This isn’t a constant occurrence, but it’s happened often enough. And my novels, being the sturdy troopers they are, take the plummeting and live on to fight another day. They neither complain, nor do they break. Now think of me lying in bed reading my IPad and having it tumble onto the floor. Disaster! Reading would become such an expensive pastime; I wouldn’t be able to afford it. No, I’ll happily stay on the sidelines in this e-reader revolution and stick with the romance of my books.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012