Saturday on the Couch: Digital or paper books?

Digital or paper: that is the question!

I see it in my mind’s eye as I’m driving home from a busy day. There’s me, reclining on couch, chair or bed with my feet up, cat on my knee, cuppa nearby and the most important accessory – a book.

And that is the dilemma I will write about today – paper or screen, a digital book reader does not seem quite the same. There is something special about a new book. I crack open the pages, sniff that newly inked smell, revel in the smoothness of the cover and the tactile sensation of hundreds of pages which hold a brand new world for me to explore.

And even when it is all over, that is not the end of it, because they will adorn my shelves in all of their beautiful and colourfully-spined glory.

Piles of them, mini worlds full of adventure, romance, murder, mystery and so much more. Maybe recipes from near and far, or a memoir about somebody famous, or a period in history that was many years ago.

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As a book reviewer for Starts at Sixty, when I drive in my gate I look to the right to see if there is a brown cardboard parcel on my front veranda. If there is, I dash out to get it, ignoring the hungry cat and the call of my bladder or the groceries needing to be put away. I rip it open like a kid on Christmas morning and there they are, the latest babies for me to sniff, stroke and read so I can write a review for you.

But digital books have their place also. Of course, they do. Years ago I had six fat novels in paperback form with me for a holiday, but my excess baggage was very expensive, so I learned to be more circumspect. I downloaded books onto my iPad and took that with me. I have friends with Kobos and Kindles, and they do have their value. I can see that. I can have a huge pile of books all stashed onto a slim piece of electronic equipment, but it’s just not quite the same.

Sorry but it isn’t.

I lose my place, get distracted by emails, messages or Facebook, the screen can be changed to look like a book, but it’s glassy and bright. I lose my place in spite of the little bookmark and I find that the saddest part is, when it is all over it’s hidden away on my iPad never to be referred to again, instead of gracing my already overflowing shelves with being ready to be looked at again, or given away to a friend to borrow and enjoy.

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What is your opinion, friends?

I have a nurse friend who sits in the back of patient transport and at times she can bring out her Kindle and dive into a book while appearing quite discrete. Another friend who does huge walking tours overseas uses her Kindle to sit under a tree and relax or to wile away the time in a quaint cafe somewhere. It would be impractical to carry around great volumes of paper and cardboard books for many. I have even found at times that sitting in a waiting room without a book that I can bring out my phone and it will have a book on it for me to dive into.

So I guess my conclusion would have to be that they are both great and both have their value and place of usefulness in our lives. The world has changed so much over the last twenty years and we live our lives in different ways, but I trust that there will always be the need to read and escape to new worlds, but deep down inside, those brown paper  parcels and the exciting contents inside will always be my preferred way to read a book.

Which do you prefer?

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