I recently wrote a post called “Maintaining a Personal Touch in a Wired World” over at Blogging4Jobs. As I mentioned in that post, I like a lot of what technology has done to make our work lives more efficient, but I have worked hard to keep technology from completely taking over my work life. I still see value in face-to-face communication and handwritten notes even though I enjoy spending time on social media sites, blogging, texting and emailing. When it comes to books though, you will never see a an eReader in my hands. I prefer a good, old paper book.
I see value in a single device that can hold a whole library of books. It puts a world of writing at your fingertips and alleviates the problem of weighing down a suitcase with several books while on vacation. I have also heard people rave about how such devices can make books interactive. Books can now contain links to websites with more information, video and more.
I’m not sure that I would agree that such things make books more interactive. For me, books have always been very interactive. When I am reading a good book, I am immersed in the world created by the author. There are no links for more information or videos to guide me on my way. My imagination is interacting with the words. In a way, books are a rather simple form of technology. We can see whole stories play out in our minds. No special viewing device is needed.
All the extras an eReader can add to a book may enhance the learning experience, but it can take me out of the need to simply connect with a good book. I spend a lot of time on my iPhone and computer throughout the day. It’s the way I get a lot of my work done, not to mention that it’s how I write fiction, get most of my news, stay in touch with friends and stay up-to-date on what my favorite authors and bookstores are up to. This is perhaps the main reason I eschew eReaders. My books are a way to unplug from all the distractions of technology and the sense of urgency in completing tasks that come via technology. In a paper book, there are no ads popping up, no links to follow and no cute animal videos.
I attended an HR technology conference last week. It was fun to learn about all the developments in this area. I was live tweeting during presentations and exchanging contact information with my iPhone out, but when it came to note taking, I had a paper notebook. When writing a story, I usually opt for my computer, but when it comes to note taking, there is something gratifying about putting pen to paper.
I took Christine by Stephen King with me. I had started the book long ago and had set it aside because it hadn’t really grabbed my interest. It took a long time to get into the story. Now that I have about 150 pages left, the story has picked up, and I am looking forward to seeing how the story plays out. I took a break during the conference to enjoy a few pages, some coffee and dessert. You can probably tell from the picture that my copy of Christine is beat up a bit. It was an old copy I got for $1 at a used bookstore. I like the character and feel of an old book in my hands–something I can’t get from an eReader.
I don’t judge those who love their eReaders. Such technology is just another way to get books into people’s hands–something which makes me happy. Whether it be paper or electronic, reading is reading. What’s your preferred format? Let me know in the comments.