In our increasingly tech-oriented world, just about everything seems to be moving towards an electronic version. We have email, e-payments, e-cards, e-shopping, e-news, e-records–the list goes on. But what about e-books? While many seem to be ditching paper-based books in favor of their electronic counterparts, is reading paper books really a lost form of pleasure? There are pros and cons to both options.
Thumbs up to e-books
E-books clearly have many practical benefits. For one, they are much more portable. Rather than lugging a hard cover book in our already-too-heavy bags, we can now simply click open an e-book on our phone or tablet and read it whenever we feel the desire, even for just a few short minutes. E-books are also much easier to purchase. Do any of us really have time to locate a bookstore that is (sadly) still open, carve out a time window to travel there, and then hope the store carries the book we want to read? Instead of undergoing this laborious process, we can now hop onto one of the numerous online or app-based outlets for purchasing books and immediately download just about any book. We can also “rent” books library-style or download “books on tape” to listen to with just a short click or swipe. This all sounds great, right? Well, there are also many benefits to staying old fashioned.
Advantages of staying “old school”
Aside from good ‘ol nostalgia, there are many valid reasons for sticking with paper books. First, the actual touching and turning of each page somehow makes reading a pleasurable act. We have all probably experienced that feeling of accomplishment when we see the pages remaining in a book move from a seemingly insurmountable quantity to just a few. Swiping a page on a tablet, on the other hand, one might argue, feels less relaxing and gratifying, and more like pressing a button on a GPS or ATM, cold and formulaic.
E-books seem to provide more opportunities for “multi-tasking,” leading us to lose focus on the book at hand and start tackling items on our to-do lists. When reading a book on your tablet, for instance, you might realize that you need to order laundry detergent and bottled water from Fresh Direct, check your child’s school portal, or make a dinner reservation. Focusing on what could otherwise be a relaxing, mindful task can turn into just one of the many items on your to-do list.
Research tells us that we actually comprehend less of what we’re reading from an e-book than we do from a paper book. Perhaps it is the flashy gimmicks that appear when reading or the more interactive pictures and designs. Alternatively, it could be, as mentioned earlier, that our minds just wonder to our to-do lists filled with tasks that can be completed on the very same tablet, at the very same time.
We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t watch TV or check email an hour or so before bedtime, since it may interrupt our sleep. Well, it’s true, and reading e-books is no different. The light that is emitted from our e-book devices can prevent us from falling and staying asleep. Reading should be relaxing, something we can use to wind down, not rile up.
Reading can offer so much joy, regardless of its form. Some prefer reading on tablets while others prefer old fashioned paper books. Ultimately, it is a personal decision but with technology evolving, we sometimes need to stop and wonder if sometimes old is still very good.
Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a local tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home and on-site instruction for students in grades pre-K-12. She is also the author of the workbook series Strategies for Study Success and Flags and Stars. To learn more about Emily Levy and EBL Coaching, visit eblcoaching.com!