Saturday, May 5, 2012

To Kindle or not to Kindle

(May 10th update: I went ahead and bought a Nook instead!)

I’m torn. My birthday wish list included a Kindle, but I am not so sure if I am ready to make the transition. There are so many pros to reading physical books.

For one, borrowing and lending books can be a bonding experience. Once I borrowed Baltasar and Blimunda from a crush who had the wonderful habit of writing on his books. He had underlined phrases, circled words, scribbled notes on the margin. It was like I was listening to his real-time commentary.

Plus, a paper book physically exists. With mass and all. Would reading Crime and Punishment be the same if you didn’t tow around the three-pounds, the emotions of guilt and paranoia weighing down on your shoulders? And books can carry memories. If a five-year-old practices writing his name on a page or a goat nibbles on a chapter (or if your favorite author signs your book), these are memory nuggets that stay on physically in the books.

Noyes and Garland in their 2005 paper found that students prefer to learn from paper books over computers, and believe they will learn better from books. The authors suggest this may be because children have access to books earlier on in their life and view computers as a tool for playing instead of learning. But in fact, numerous studies with E-readers have shown that there is no significant difference in reading speed and comprehension. There is more eye fatigue with electronic screens but you can control the font size on E-readers.

Especially with all the stuff I'll be carrying around for dental school, this may be the practical solution. Plus, I carry a bundle of articles in my backpack and E-readers now support PDF documents. Instead of shuffling around a bunch of stapled papers, I could pull out my E-reader and make use of moments in between appointments.

beauty_and_the_beast_libraryThis can’t happen with E-books. Picture

But if I were to ask “What if everyone switched over to E-books?”, the answer is that I’d be really sad. Sometimes the best reads come from browsing someone’s book shelf. Where is the future of bookstores and libraries?

Do you have an e-reader?
How do you feel about the e-reader trend?