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With spring making an arrival we can smell perfumed flowers, the crisp cool breeze. We hear the birds chirping and kids playing on the streets. Spring turns to summer, then fall and then winter before the cycle repeats itself. Although for book lovers, one thing remains constant – a cozy place to lose ourselves in a world full of possibilities. In the words of Jorge Luis Borges, “I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library.” Reading books has become a status symbol among millennials. The more books one reads, the more they are taken seriously…. as they should be.
Thanks to technological advancement, we don’t need to carry books anymore either. We have them on our apps across all our devices anytime we want to read. eBooks can be very convenient since they are easily portable, instant, have no late library fees, have built-in dictionaries, can be customized for fonts and size, and easy to access particular titles. We can be on the go, underground, and still, read our favorite book. Yes! This is the best invention there can be for book lovers. But like all good things, there is a flip side to it too.
- In any future scenario where we don’t have electricity or internet for extended periods of time, a physical book will still work just fine.
- Having dictionaries and ‘help’ buttons can be very confusing and distracting. With attention spans waning it is hard to focus on what we are reading if we have links and buttons all over the page.
- Reading words on a backlit surface is definitely a source of stress for our eyes and brain. After working/studying all day on screens, watching videos, and meeting our friends virtually as well, the last thing anyone needs is more strain on their sensory nerves.
- We lose our chance to customize our books with notes and thoughts. The purpose of a book is to provoke thoughts, inspire imagination and make notes about them. eBooks do not provide us with a complete experience.
- Physical books keep us accountable that they need to be read through, unlike digital ones where out of sight is out of mind.
Apart from those mentioned above, physical books can add to our well-being in so many ways that eBooks cannot. The smell of a new book, words of wisdom noted down by our parents, grandparents, or even our great-grandparents in their copies, the entire act of slowing down, reading old bookmarked pages, can be very calming to our overdriven bodies. The act of sharing our book with another person is like a seal of friendship that says ‘This gave me joy. May you have it too’
Reading from a physical book has proven to improve focus and memory retention. One of the main reasons for this according to Anne Mangen is “The haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does, the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.” After conducting a survey with 400 students between the ages of 18 and 26 Naomi Baron, executive director for American University’s Center for Teaching, Research and Learning stated that between 92 and 94% of people said they concentrate best while reading a printed book. It has also been proven that people who read printed books are more empathetic as compared to people who read digital books who are less moved. Read more on that here.
In 2002 Google embarked on an ambitious book-digitizing project. According to them, this will give readers digital access to millions of in-copyright books; second, it will create a new market for authors and publishers to sell their works; and third, it will further the efforts of our library partners to preserve and maintain their collections while making books more accessible to students, readers, and academic researchers. On the other hand, conscious visionaries and advocates are discontented with this program. Their view being Google is setting up a wall around digitized books restricting access to information and knowledge. Do they intend to let people buy and ‘own’ the books or have limited access by paying monthly subscriptions? Read more on restricted e-readership here.
Lastly, let us consider the environmental aspects. As far as materials, manufacturing process, transportation, usage, and disposal are concerned eBooks and printed ones have a detrimental effect on the Earth. More information on that can be found here. There are ways to counter some of those effects with a community-based approach. Joining ‘give a book, take a book’ programs, sharing books with friends, buying used, buying new ones and sharing, choosing eco-conscious vendors, etc. Most importantly we need to realize that be it the printed book industry or e-Books – the publishing industry needs to clean up its act.
At Green Schools Green Future we understand that in this day and age no matter what we do, there is an environmental consequence. We encourage people to understand the pros and cons and trust them to make the appropriate decision. To learn more about our project, click here. To support our cause, click here.
Written By: Kritika Rao