When the Kindle first made its debut in 2007, I, along with many others, was skeptical. Questions such as “Who would want to read a book on a device?” “How does an electronic book work?” “How much is a Kindle book going to cost me?” along with an array of other comments filled chatrooms (remember chatrooms?).
However, some people accepted and adapted to this new technology. E-readers were quickly added to the avid reader’s “must-have list,” and revolutionized the way people read. Admittedly there are many benefits to owning a Kindle, including downloading free samples, instant delivery upon purchase, traveling with your complete library, seeing what other readers have highlighted, and reading at night without turning on a light.
However, 14 years later, research is beginning to show that there is a downside to reading books on an electronic device. Reading on a device before bed will stimulate your brain and, therefore, make it harder to fall asleep. Too much screen time (on any device) can cause fatigue, and itchy, burning eyes, which can lead to headaches.
Books, on the other hand, seem to stack up better. According to an article on CBSnews.com, “Several small studies suggest that reading on paper instead of an electronic screen is better for memory retention and focus. The Guardian reported on an experiment from Norway where people were given a short story to read either on a Kindle or in a paperback book. When they were quizzed later, those who read the paperback were more likely to remember plot points in the right order.”
The article further explained why this might be. “When you read on paper, you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right,” the lead researcher, Anne Mangen, of Norway’s Stavanger University, told the Guardian. “You have the tactile sense of progress… Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.”
I decided to switch back to reading physical books for a few reasons. Throughout the course of my day, I’m on the computer more than I care to be. Between writing, critiquing, editing, proofreading, conducting research, and, as of lately, a ton of Zoom meetings, I’m getting way too much screen time, and lots of headaches to boot. To help counter this, I began to schedule ten- or fifteen-minute breaks here and there. However, I soon discovered that, when I take a break, I was either on my Kindle, my phone, or in front of the television. I was going from one screen to the next. As you can imagine, this was an unhealthy habit and I had to make a change.
Another reason I want to buy “real” books is because of the Cancel Cultural movement. Imagine someone walking into your home, and removing specific titles from your bookshelves because they don’t match up with their belief system. This scenario likely won’t happen but guess what? It’s already happening with e-reading devices. At any given time, Amazon, Nook, Apple, and others can remove a title (book) from your library without your permission. So, in a way, physical books represent freedom.
Lastly, I hadn’t realized how much I missed an excellent paperback until I started reading them again. I love the feeling of a book in my hands, physically turning pages, and seeing my progress. In many cases, I’m finding that books often are equal in cost or, in some cases, less than the Kindle edition. I also find great bargains at yard sales, thrift stores, library book sales, and even the supermarket.
Because we live out of our motorhome, you won’t find me stockpiling reading material. I usually only have a few books on hand. As I finish a title, I either give it to someone, or donate it.
Since making this change, I’ve had fewer headaches, and I seem to enjoy reading a bit more then I remember.
I still have my Kindle device and don’t plan on letting it go. There are some books I’ll still read on it (until the Cancel Cultural removes them) but, for the most part, I’m back to reading physical books.
- How Amazon Could Have Avoided the Kindle Book Deletion Debacle By Angela Hoy
- Despite Covid, Print Books Still Outsold Ebooks in 2020
- Another Reason to Buy Print Books: Amazon Can’t Take Them Away From You!
- To Kindle Or Not To Kindle By George English
- Authors Beware! “Gifting” Your Kindle E-Books May BACKFIRE! By Angela Hoy
T.M. Jacobs, a native to the shoreline area of Connecticut, now resides in various locations along the east coast with his fiancé traveling and working from their RV motorhome. He has published nine books, over 400 articles published in various newspapers and magazines, teaches classes on writing and publishing, and currently is the owner of Jacobs Writing Consultants. He is the founder and former editor for Patriots of the American Revolution magazine and has been a freelance writer for over 30 years. His book, The 1864 Diary of Civil War Union Soldier Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor: A first-hand account of the horrors at Andersonville Prison is a biography of Grosvenor who kept a small diary while in the Andersonville Prison. This title was featured on C-SPAN2 TV.
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