From page to pixel
With an increasingly common shift in medium over the last decade we have seen a migration from pages to screens and this can raise mixed opinions. What is your reaction to the new media approach to the book?
Are you thrilled by the convenience of having hundreds of books to hand, anywhere you go? Or, do you feel something magical is lost when letters are produced by pixels rather than ink?
The way we feel may depend on what generation we are, as well as our reading habits and desire to physically hold an object.
It's probably quite likely many of us can contemplate both the advantages and disadvantages the rise of digital publications has brought us. For the younger generations e-books may open up many new worlds to them previously deemed impenetrable by the weight – in both senses of the word – of a physical book. Equally for those of us with sight issues, or have a reading disorder such as dyslexia, e-books with their ability to increase font size makes reading as a past time so much more accessible and therefore enjoyable.
E-books also open up more opportunities for everyone to read because of their portability – from commutes to work and school by train and bus there becomes more accessible moments to read throughout the day.
Does the e-book change how we read?
“The physical grappling with the book's heft while cognitively attending to the text at hand seems to unite the body and the mind in ways that arguably occur to a lesser degree when facing a screen.”
– Book Presence in a Digital Age
Although on a tablet the act of reading – holding it in our hands, turning pages with our fingers – is similar to an actual book, how much, if at all, does it take away from us not having to physically grabble with a book as an object, as we simultaneously connect the words being read with our own personal interpretations?
With the addition of a screen, touchpad and/or keyboard on e-readers, it could be argued the distance between the reader and the text in one sense has increased and lightened the load of a reading experience.
Once we have read a digital page, we swipe a finger and it's gone. There is only a single plane; the current page being read. Although we're always told how far we have read and how many pages we have to go, the digital reading experience removes from us a sense of density.
We lack the experience of watching the bookmark slowly move its way through the pages from beginning to end, which for some might be a more satisfying means to track progress.
The bookmark is a waypoint and our guide – perhaps though only because this has been the normal for so long. For some this may be a real positive with e-books removing the possible daunting prospect of traversing through x number of pages and allowing the reader to just enjoy reading in the moment.