Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

Way back in 2010, a young college sophomore version of myself began taking 400 level Literature courses. I got my first booklist for ENGL 420 – “Wilderness Literature” and was shocked when I learned I needed nine novels for the course. And that was just one course. Thus marks the beginning of my interest in eReaders.

This week’s poll on The Daily Post asks whether you prefer eReaders and eBooks to the good-ole fashioned print version, a topic I’ve discussed many times (here, here, and here for starters!).

Since the good people of WordPress were kind enough to link to my blog on their site, I’m going to take their challenge and respond to this poll. As you know, if you’re a regular around here, I’ve gone paperless this semester and bought all my textbooks as eBooks, so I’m not going to talk about it from a textbook point of view.

I begged my parents for Barnes & Noble‘s Nook, and since they love me and wanted to get me an awesome birthday gift because I was away at college, they caved and got me the Nook Color in 2010. So now instead of hauling textbooks and four or five novels around the metropolis that is Penn State’s main campus, I could contain those novels in one little device. The best part? Most of the novels I was studying were in the public domain, so the digital versions were FREE.

The educational benefits were the hook I used to get my parents into the idea of buying me the $300 device, but I wasn’t about to relegate my eBook consumption to pre-1900s American literature. I have to admit, the number one pro to having an eReader is that you can buy books and read them instantly, and for a digital native like myself, instant gratification goes a long way.

For example, when I wanted to read Catching Fire immediately after finishing The Hunger Games, I couldn’t stand to wait until the next day to go to the bookstore. I whipped out my Nook and BOOM! I was off and reading once again. Love it.

However, I can still get lost in Barnes & Noble. I still love roving the library stacks for the next great find – because there’s nothing better than an interesting spine that calls to you from the top shelf, catching your eye because of the perfect color combination, font style, or clever title. I still love carrying a physical book when I go to substitute teach – I don’t have to worry about my Nook getting swiped, and there’s just something about other people seeing me engrossed in a physical, paper-bound book that makes me feel different from the tablet-toting consumer of pixels and electricity.

My conclusion to the poll is this: A true lover of words cannot choose between physical and eBook. eBooks offer the instant gratification of reading the next book in the series, the self-published e-author’s first work before they got famous, or the steamy romance novel with the racy cover that you wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead reading in public. Physical books, for a true lover of words, are just too near and dear to our hearts to ever let go of completely. Readers of paper-bound books don’t need to constantly worry about where the nearest electricity-producing outlet is. A physical tome can be passed down from generation to generation with ease. Holding a novel is like holding a part of the author – expressed not only in the words, but in the paper weight and font choices.

Physical books and eBooks will live in not-always peaceful coexistance, and I don’t foresee the conclusion of that relationship until long after I’ve left this earth.

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