Monday, 18 January 2016

Why not both?

In The Guardian news article “The writing is on the paywall- but the end of the print is not quite nigh” it is reported that in Christmas 2012, it wasn’t print books that won out, or e-readers that won out.  It was both.  There are those who swear by print, and those who rejoiced at the release of e-readers.  Then there are those who simply like both.  There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hand, turning the pages, flipping back and forth easily.  But for those of us who like to read, and who would carry multiple books with us where ever we could if they didn’t weigh so much, there’s the convenience of the e-reader, tablets, or even cellphones.  As someone who sees the importance of both, I believe there is something to be said about the results of sales at Christmas time.  Neither one can really replace the other.  There is value in print in cyber space, and there is value in hard copies.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a screen or a book, if something manages to capture my imagination, it’s not likely that I’m going to get distracted by anything else around me, or by anything else I could be doing in my immediate area.

Sheldon says. “It runs on the world’s most powerful graphics chip.  Imagination.”  He does this while playing a 80s text based game on his computer.  Despite being outdated, and long since replaced with newer games, with images, sounds, and characters you can control, he easily gets immersed in the game.  The way I see it, the key is imagination.  From text based games, to crystal clear graphics on Playstation or Xbox, or from books to e-readers, it’s really all about a readers, or participant’s imagination, interests, and how quickly something can pull them in.

The way we print text may have changed and evolved over time, but the concept remained the same.  Words, texts, images on paper, essentially finalized and bound together in our hand.  As Elizabeth Eisenstein states, “Premature obituaries of the death of the sermon and the end of the book are themselves testimony to long-enduring habits of the mind.” It’s not the end, it’s just another way of doing things, and there are those who are always going to circle back around to printed documents. “Yet the views held by previous generations cannot be deleted as easily as can words upon a screen.” There is almost a feeling of security with books. It you hit one wrong mistake, you won’t lose your content, if you throw your book across a room (I’ll fully admit I’ve done this, emotional response to whatever I was reading) the book is still going to be there, likely unharmed. While there are now clouds, and ways to back up the content we read on screens, it’s just not quite the same. Flipping it around, the e-readers offer books at a lower price, they don’t use paper, and you can bring more books with you wherever you go. These debates between the new and traditional can go on and on.

In the end, methods of communication are always evolving and changing, but I really do think there’s always room for more than one method.


Eisenstein, E. L. (1995). The end of the book?: Some perspectives on media change. The American Scholar, 541-555.

Preston, Peter, (2012). “The writing is on the paywall – but the end of print is not quite nigh,” The Guardian

1 comment:

  1. Cara, I agree with you that there is room for both. I like to read giant books like The Goldfinch on my Kobo because it's easier to carry around, but when it comes to reference books, I like the real thing. I find that it's not easy to flip around in a digital book in any format, the indexing isn't great and there is lacking a sense of space. By that, I mean you don't get a sense of where you are in a book- I can visually tell something was 1/3 of the way in or near the end on a real book when I look for it again, and I know how close to the end I am. With any kind of e-reader there isn't the same tactile feedback- do you think that will change?