“We still don’t know the long-term effects of reading e-books vs. traditional hard copy books. Some studies show that people read slower on dedicated e-readers, and those who use tablets or computers or iPhones have a different reading experience, being constantly distracted by text messages, emails, Facebook, and other interruptions. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains explores the changes in brain function that may result. Hyperlinked, multi-tasking readers do not have the same “deep reading” experience, and are less likely to store what they read in long-term memory.

In short, we face a revolution in reading not unlike the one Gutenberg introduced almost 700 years ago. Nowadays authors are coached on “building your brand” more than on improving their writing. Publishers care more about website stats and Twitter followers than the quality of an author’s work.

Frankly, I’m glad I’m as old as I am. It’s been fun living through publishing’s golden age. I’ll happily stick with the “deep reading” experience. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than browsing through the books in my office. They’re my friends—marked up, dog-eared, highlighted, a kind of spiritual and intellectual journal—in a way that my Kindle reader will never be.”

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  1. David McCoy

    I personally have mixed feelings on the subject. I love looking at the covers of books in my library and remembering their stories; physical books are enjoyable to hold and mark up; they are also much easier to flip through and cross-reference; and used book stores have always had an attraction for me since you never know what you will find–like a treasure hunt.

    On the other hand, a Kindle or a Nook is perfect to take along on a vacation rather than a suitcase full of reading material. Also, it is amazing that one can get the complete works of Dickens, Hugo, Conrad, etc. stored on a tiny electronic device and pay only a dollar or two for the privilege.

    For now, I will enjoy the best of both worlds, and when I move into my one-room assisted living quarter one of these days, I will just take my Nook with me rather than agonizing over which few books in my library I should choose.


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