What a Digital Book Means to Me

For the past year, whenever I’ve read a book, it’s almost always been on an iOS device.

A lot of people are surprised that I can read whole books on such a small screen, but it’s not so different from reading a normal book since you’re still only reading one word at a time.

The only difference is that I have to turn the page more frequently, and since that just takes a tap on the screen as I hit the end of the page I don’t even notice that I’m doing it.

I started by reading all seven of the Harry Potter books this way in two months, and it’d been more than six years since the last time I read a fiction book.

Twenty feet away, all seven of the Harry Potter books were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust while I read them on my iPod before going to sleep every night. Several times I picked up one of them, found my place and continued to read. But it was never long before the chore of keeping a 600-page book in a comfortable, well-lit position motivated me to grab my iPod Touch again, so I could immerse myself in the story without the distractions.

I appreciate the nostalgia of reading paper books in the same way that I appreciate the nostalgia of playing old video games or that others appreciate listening to vinyl records. I can enjoy quiet time with a great hardcover book and a cup of hot chocolate as well as anyone, but that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating digital books for completely different reasons that don’t have anything to do with my nostalgia.

It’s not an either-or proposition. Enjoying paper books in one context doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy digital books in another context, or in my case, several other contexts. I’m thankful for and excited by the ability to fit all kinds of reading into places and times that they didn’t fit into so easily before.

I don’t have to remember to take them with me because they’re already on several devices that I wouldn’t leave home without. I don’t have to choose which book to walk out the door with because all of my digital books are with me all the time.

Vinyl lovers still carry iPods. Classic gamers can still play Modern Warfare. Film snobs who love movie nights at home with their Criterion films can still enjoy going out to see The Avengers.

So for me, digital books have absolutely nothing to do with not loving or appreciating “hard copies.” These digital books just fit into my life in more, different, and easier ways. I appreciate them for those reasons, just as I appreciate physical books for their own.

Joseph Rooks