“Books… They transport us to many locations, and we dare not retreat; we beg to go, and clamor to become acquainted with the mysteries held within the binding.”
Since the invention of the PDF and then of the iPad, Kindle, and other E-Reader’s, the debate of which is best- paper versus “books in the cloud” has been going back and forth. I have no dog in this fight, since I simply refuse to be swayed from my opionion that old fashioned paper books are so much better- in so many ways- than a digitized version of the same. In fact, I don’t regard my postition as opinion, I look at it as just another fact of life that some people wish to argue over from the point of view of sheer laziness.
If YOU are too lazy to physically hold, store, and care for a book- then you might not deserve to read it.
Books are physical objects and they are that way for a good reason. With the exception perhaps of raw data and sales reports, or any other parcels which don’t contain even a modecum of personal flair, a book or story contains a portion of the #author. Therefore, that printed word is both physical AND spirtual in nature. It then follows that something like that can only exist… or truly be appreciated… in a medium that is also lifelike and real!
The cloud is neither lifelife or “real”. Sure, it is THERE, but where really is “THERE”. At best, the Cloud is a figment of imagination, that rests somewhere in the ether, and at a moment’s notice, some glitch in the wiring of the universe might cause an erasure of those contents. POOF! Never to be seen again.
On the other hand, the REAL hand, a book- especially one which is fashioned in a fine binding with rich paper, is very much a living and existing thing. In the case of emergency, I have a box ready to GO that is full of “important” personal documents, i.e. Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, etc. However, I also have on my top shelf, between two brass bookends, my collection of Steinbeck’s! These are part of my “go bag”, and in my estimation, are irreplaceable. Oh sure, I could buy other copies to replace them if they were to be lost, but the books- MY books- couldn’t be replaced.
As MY books, my living books; I feel the familiar paper in my hands; I know the creases in pages; I understand that the spine on “East of Eden” is getting fragile- becuase I’ve read that opus probably 30-35 times. And… each time the experience from MY book is different. The tone is different, the ending feels different.
The same kind of kinship is felt and debated in the music world; and exists between the technologies in recording known as digiatal and analog. The easiest way to explain these differences, in terms of pure sound, is that scratchy; fuzzy; and FULL sound you hear when listening to a song on an old record album, or even a cassette tape. However, when you might listen to a “re-mastered” version of the same song on a C.D. or online- the sound and tone will be CRYSTAL clear, the notes absolutely sharp… And yet, there is some loss of the warmth and “realness” of the recording which is no longer present inasmuch that the digital style of the recording process does not involve any physicality of the the musical notes causing some needle to vibrate and etch indentations into a peice of film or vinyl.
Instead- the music simply flows via bluetooth or wire into the vacuum of space, and is electronically burned into a disk as a computer program. In so doing, the master has preserved a nearly perfect copy of the sound- indeed, everything EXCEPT for the life and blood of the sound… the “feeling” of the song; the effort placed in the notes… these are not heard, at least- if they are heard, they are no longer “felt” in the digital medium.
But, back to books. There have been numerous studies conducted, and I came across one, included below, which found in 2014 that when using the actual written word (A BOOK) versus a Kindle, that comprehension levels rose dramatically. In short, people immediately understood and remembered more from an old fashioned book than they did from the cloud based and digitized version of the same.
Definately something to consider the next time you see a young child glued to an iPad, scrolling through pages; without blinking; and most likely- without understanding. TAKE THE KIDS TO A REAL LIBRARY- let them feel the books; appreciate the books… and read the books.
From The Guardian: