Here is a blog I wrote for www.enchantico.in ; India’s first book subscription box for kids.
The eBooks vs Paper books fight has been going on for some time now. Unfortunately, I fail to understand what the row is about!
To digress a little… Years ago, a long distance relationship would mean that we couldn’t talk to or meet our near-and- dear ones for months. With the invention of telephones and mobile-phones, our lives were simplified. And then a digital revolution happened. Applications like Whatsapp, FaceTime and Snapchat changed the world as we know it. We could easily connect with people sitting in far off places – see them, hear them, feel them as if they were with us.
But did that mean we stopped meeting people in the physical world? Did we stop going out on dates with our better-halves and instead date digitally from home? Can a video call truly replace meeting someone in real life? Digitalization was meant to ease our lives, not as a way of life. So… is it any different when we are talking about digitalization of books?
Today, toddlers know how to operate our mobiles and tablets, maybe better than some of us! Watching videos on YouTube and downloading & playing games from the App Store is a piece of cake for them. Our childhood memories are full of running around and playing games like hide-and-seek; our kids are making memories of playing Candy Crush and Temple Run! At a time like this, do we really want to even digitalize books for them?
Can an eBook truly replace a traditional Paper book? Even though the influence and market of eBooks is growing, can we, or rather should we disregard Paper books?
Here are 6 reasons why I believe there is no comparison between the two:
1. Experience matters
What is it that you want for your child? Do you want him to read books or do you want your child to fall in love with the experience of reading?
The touch of a page, the smell of a book, the anticipation of turning a page, the excitement of using the new bookmark… these are all experiences that add to the pleasure of reading, pleasures that only a Paper book can bestow you with.
2. Possessions – Prized or otherwise
If you are an avid reader, you surely have those few books that you just can’t do away with. They are old, and they are battered, and you no more get time to read them because of your busy lives. But you still have them – a part of your bookshelf that serves as a beautiful reminder.
Do you think your child will be able to enjoy such moments of gratification and fulfilment with eBooks? Shouldn’t he have a physical reminder of his intellectual journey? And, who is to even guarantee that the eBooks that he is reading today in a Kindle or a Tablet might even be readable a few years down the line! The formats might be as obsolete as a Floppy Disk or a CD!
3. Hitch with Memory
And it’s not just all about fun and pleasure. Studies have proven that individuals reading an eBook are more likely to not recall the details as compared to their counterparts reading the traditional printed books.
If all you want to give your child is a fun-time then it might be alright. However, if you want him to remember the content, an eBook spells bad news.
4. Give and Take
Remember those times when someone gave you a book and said “Read it and you’ll know”? That feeling of sharing a book… how can your child really experience it with an eBook?
I agree there are ways to share eBooks. But sharing it over Bluetooth or Email just does in any way give either one of you the same pleasure.
Remember all the scribbling in the margins, underlining or highlighting we used to do to make notes for ourselves? Not to forget those dog-ears! You can only enjoy these advantages with a Paper Book. Though eBooks allow you to digitally mark or make notes, it just isn’t the same. Physically making notes boosts our cognitive abilities and helps us to understand and recall details. There is not much use of all the reading your child would do if he wouldn’t be able to recall the details, would it?
6. Health is the biggest wealth
Reading an eBook from a device that emits light certainly isn’t the healthiest way of reading a book. And though Kindle has brilliantly solved this problem, it still interferes with the sleep and overall health of your child.
Having advocated Paper books, I would also like to point out that eBooks is a boon. If you have fortunately been able to inculcate the reading habit in your child, and if he cannot travel without having a few books at his disposal, an eBook reader might just be the answer to your requirement of traveling light.
To conclude, I would like to say that as long as we treat eBooks as a temporary replacement of Paper books, it works just fine!