Call me old fashioned, traditionalist or just a technophobe but the new wave of e-readers such as Kindles, Kobos and Nooks scares me. Honestly, I avoid looking at them whenever I walk into a shop and instead focus on the reassuring white pages of physical books!
Books provide a reading experience which is much more high-tech than the dim screen of an e-reader: the rustle of the pages, the faint crack of the spine when you eagerly turn the page, the faint papery smell of a freshly purchased novel and the feel of the rough paper beneath your fingertips. Your travel books will become filled with public transport ticket stubs, creased maps, museum and art gallery passes. Your beloved recipe books will be stained with your latest culinary creation, greasy with butter, splashed with sauces and sprinkled with spices. Poetry collections will rustle with Post-It notes, school textbooks will become a rainbow of highlighting and novels will become creased with use.
In comparison, the world of the Kindle or Kobo is dim and dull; a greyish, boring world of sterile technology. Surely, it can be said that they do not give the reader the true reading experience? Yet, more and more of us are buying these e-readers. Is there something to be said for the convenience of having thousands of books, newspapers and magazines at your fingertips? You can start a journey at one of Jane Austen’s Regency dances and end up in Count Dracula’s horrifying castle. It’s the literary equivalent of time-travelling! Another reason in favour of the e-reader is that they eliminate peer pressure as well, as no-one can see exactly what you’re reading. Furthermore, on a Kindle the majority of classics, such as Shakespeare or Dickens can even be downloaded for free.
Maybe a compromise can be reached. There is no need to give up the physical books as they are like life-long friends which have walked faithfully beside you for years. Yet, it might be possible for us to carve out a role for these e-readers after all. In any case, anything which promotes reading is surely a good thing! It’s all about balance. Maybe I should be brave and invest in an e-reader after all!
What do you think about e-readers? Do you have one? Would you like one?