eReading vs. Traditional Reading

I’ve owned a Kindle for close to two years now and a few weeks ago I realized that I have read less than 10 books on it. I have tons of books downloaded on the device – lots of out-of-print titles and other copyright free titles – but I don’t read them. And I have to ask myself: why not? I think it is all about the experience for me. Reading on my Kindle just doesn’t feel real. It feels like I am swallowing the words and not properly digesting them. I was discussing this issue with a friend at work and he likened it to the classic car collector’s feelings – they prefer classic cars to contemporary cars because the cars have soul, you can feel them working, as opposed to the computerized cars of today that are sterile and lifeless.

Also, the Kindle Fire is heavy. It is not easy to read it in bed as it strains the wrists much more than a paper book does and reading it is uncomfortable for me.

The hugest downside for me, however, is the design issue. I have an obsession with pretty books and covers and I derive immense enjoyment from reading a beautiful book that has a well-designed cover. The black, liquid look of the Kindle Fire is not horrible, but it isn’t pleasing to the eye either.

I am not anti-ebook. I know ebooks have a place in our modern lives and that they are convenient, portable and immediate in a way that print books aren’t. I don’t think I will be reading very many more of them myself, but I do plan to keep my Kindle as a tablet to use for web surfing and tweeting and facebooking.

How do you feel about ereading?

I can’t decide if this disturbs me or not.

For a chance to win your very own Penguin English Library, go here.

19 thoughts on “eReading vs. Traditional Reading

  1. That WSJ article is very spooky. I don’t think I like that level of scrutiny. I hadn’t realised the Kindle Fire was so much heavier than the older Kindle (which I have and like as I don’t want colour and pictures &c., I just want to words and convenience. I’d be very resistant to it segueing into the ipad and distracting me from reading). I prefer to read big books on the Kindle to prevent my wrists/thumbs dropping off.


    1. I had an original Kindle before I got the Fire and I wish I would have just stuck with it. I liked it a lot better. I gave it away to my cousin, though, so no going back. It was much easier to read on and much lighter. I do get distracted by the Fire.
      I think my decision not to read ebooks anymore is part of my overall fear of what technology is doing to my brain. I do feel like my brain is changing and it scares me. It could just be part of the aging process, but I do think too much digital stuff is bad for you – including being spied on.


  2. My nook is also chock-full of out-of-print books, lots of Victorian novels. What I find most frustrating on my nook is how long it takes to turn the pages back, and how hard it is to find something in the pages I’ve already read. I hadn’t realized before how often I look back, to check some detail or just to re-read something.


    1. Yes, Lisa, thanks for bringing this up! I struggle with not being able to easily search for passages I forgot to mark or pages I want to go back and read. Very frustrating.


  3. I had no idea that they could track you reading on the Kindle, I don’t like the idea although – as usual – anyone tracking me would be bored to death! I’ve had my Kindle for about 4 months I think and I’ve read 8 books on it, all classic free downloads. Mine isn’t a Fire although I can get book illustrations on it, it’s light and the print is much better than mass market paperbacks and thick paperbacks are a pain to hold for long bouts of reading. I don’t like the fact that I can’t flick back easily too. I still buy books though both glossy new ones and old leather bound gilt edged ones. I’m like a ‘Bisto kid’ sniffing the book aroma.


    1. Okay, I had to look up ‘Bisto kid’, but yes I am like them too with books! I don’t like the idea of my reading habits being tracked, although I guess that is what I am doing myself here on the blog. I can’t quite say why it creeps me out, but it does. We’re very careful in the library not to keep a record of what anyone has read and not to use their checkout information against them and I appreciate that.


  4. I have the nook, and while it is convenient in some ways, I really don’t like it nearly as much as a real book. I agree with Lisa–I often rifle through the pages to review a passage, or look ahead to see what chapters are coming up. It’s a royal pain to try to do that with an e-reader.
    As for the aesthetic issue, you could always buy your kindle a pretty case!


  5. I have an old Sony E-reader, and I use it a lot, but like Lisa, I get annoyed when I want to look back for a previous passage. The search feature does the job for me, but it seems to take longer than just riffling through pages would. But I like that I can make the type large after a long day of close reading for work. And I love that I can read while eating lunch or folding laundry without having to hold the book open. I bought an easel-style cover for mine that allows me to prop it up for hands-free reading.


  6. That whole Kindle reading ME is kind of creepy — very Big Brotherish. I will occasionally read online at work, usually stuff downloaded from Project Gutenberg, but I’ve never read an entire book on a Kindle. I like turning pages, I like having beautiful editions of books. E-readers have no soul.

    And I hope I win one of those Penguin English libraries!! That would be amazing, thanks for the link!


    1. I don’t think they have a soul, either, but I’m not going to rule them out entirely. They do have advantages that are hard to resist. Most of my reading will be done in print books with real pages, but I like that I can read out of print titles that are really hard to find on my ereader.
      I hope one of us wins the Penguin English Library! I would love to have so many of those beautiful editions.


  7. I use my Kindle a lot, usually for reading free classics, but I still prefer real books. I agree with all the other comments above that it’s too inconvenient trying to turn back to re-read previous passages with the Kindle, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds that annoying!


  8. I have a Kindle (the old one, not Fire, it’s not even available in UK anyway I think) and I quite love it.

    I read quite a lot of books on it. Once I really immerse myself in the book I forget what I am reading it on. The book becomes an abstract thing living inside of my head and not in a physical world.

    It’s like a DVD. We don’t really care all that much for DVD covers, do we?

    It’s the film inside that matters.

    I bought a Kindle for my sister as well and linked it with the same account. Now each time I read a book on it and I send it to my sister’s Kindle as well, so we can read it simultaneously and discuss it. Kindle even tells me how far along she is in the book we’re reading, which is quite cool, given the fact we live in different countries.

    And I do love Kindle daily deal. I check it every day.

    But, of course, I still love paperback. I like how a bookshelf just furnishes the room. I have about 400 unread books at home and I keep buying more.


    1. You’re right, ultimately it is really the words that matter and not the delivery system. I would still read books if they were only carved in stone. I am glad that I have a choice, though, in how I want to experience them. I just happen to prefer paper and pretty covers! And that is really cool that you have your Kindle linked with your sister – what a great idea.


      1. Also another thing I like about Kindle is that if I suddenly have a craving for a particular book at 2 am for example, I can just buy it and start reading it 2 minutes later.

        That’s quite awesome.


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