Books vs. E-Books: The Past, Present, and Future of Reading

For my documentary, I decided to look into the way e-Books and e-Readers have changed reading, as well as what the future holds for print books and e-Books.

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How I Learned to Love my e-Reader

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I’ve always loved the experience of reading a book—a real, physical book. There is just something about books: the fresh, unread smell of a new book, full of newly-printed pages that no ones eyes have touched yet; the smell of a dusty old book, whose pages have been read and loved many times, and which evoke memories of previous readers who have also escaped into this story at one point in their lives; the crisp pages full of someone else’s words and thoughts and creations; the binding and cover that draw you in despite that old saying to “never judge a book by its cover.”

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I never thought I could read a book on a screen. For me, that would ruin the experience of reading a book in the first place. Books were meant to be held, to be flipped through, to be experienced. I didn’t think this was possible with an e-book.

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The problem with books for me became the issue of carrying them around. I am the kind of person who likes to have a book with me at all times, just in case. You never know when you’ll be stuck with nothing to do and wish you had brought a book. Unfortunately, some books are big. Some books are heavy. Some books get torn or bent up when you put them in a purse or backpack and carry them around all day. So, despite my love for physical books, or maybe even because of my love for them and my desire to keep them in good condition, I began to toy with the idea of getting an e-book reader.

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One day a couple of years ago, I came home from work to find a present wrapped up and sitting on the kitchen counter for me: a Barnes & Noble Nook.

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I’ll admit, it took me awhile (over six months if we’re being honest) before I finally took the plunge and read a novel using the Nook. But since that day, I’ve carried my Nook around with me everywhere. I use it almost daily, and I spend so much more time reading than I ever have before. It fits in my purse and doesn’t get damaged from carrying it around. It’s full of endless amounts of stories and when I finish one book I can immediately begin another. And most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I still get to escape into a story and get lost in it just like I would with a physical book.

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I’ll always love books. I’ll always love pretty covers and bindings and getting to turn the pages, and I’ll always have bookshelves in my home full of the books I love. I still buy books. I still read them. The difference is that now, rather than have a bunch of books on my shelves that I saw in a bookstore one day and plan on reading someday, I download books onto my Nook that I want to read right then and there, and I do read them. And I always have them there with me and I can pick them up and read even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time.

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What I’ve really learned about books from getting a Nook is that the words themselves are the experience. The story is what it is all about, and if you have that, it doesn’t matter you’re reading it on paper or a screen.