Friday, November 16, 2012

E-reading is Not Reading....

...or so says Andrew Piper over at Slate magazine.  He argues that reading isn't simply about seeing and computing the written word, but an experience that requires our other senses as well.  "Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read."

Ever since e-readers like the Kindle came out, they have had their fans and their haters.  Fans praise the openness that digital readers give to the literary world.  The ease of access, the portability of the library, the chance for unknown authors to publish themselves are all reasons given for using one.  Many believe that the book is about to go the way of the record and cd and become something you only by as novelty items from thrift stores.  And then there are those who believe that the true experience of reading can not be had by holding a machine.  Reading includes perusing the bookshelf, dog-eared pages and notes in the margin, the feeling of flipping through the pages, and the intoxicating smell of new (or old) books.  For many of them, a world without the physical book is not one worth living in.

I myself am not fully in one camp or the other.  I have friends who love to read and they love to read on their digital reader.  There are plenty of times that I wish I had one (haven't bought one as of yet for multiple reasons) like when I'm on a long plane ride and I want to read without having to lug around a physical book.  But I am also still in love with the physical book itself; the feeling of a book in my hands has become such an integral part of my life that I can't imagine living without it.

How about you?  Do you have a digital reader?  Do you like it?  Or are you a traditionalist like Mr. Piper?