About 5 or 6 years, I bought my first reader: the Nook from Barnes and Noble. Mostly I used it to read fiction, a genre I devoured growing up, but excepting the occasional peccadillo* didn’t usually read nor buy.
I really embraced digital books after Amazon started selling $24.95+ priced books for $9.99 and I finally refused to pack and cart my heavy, every expanding, library to “the new place.”
Then about two years ago, I joined Book Burb.
Now I could buy books on special for $1.99-$2.99 on average. Yeah, the title was usually a few years old but the pricing? Crack candy.
So whenever a title appealed, I bought it. Funny thing though.
When I bought physical books (mostly non-fiction, business, health/fitness, spiritual traditions, self-improvement) for the usual $24.95 but often much higher, I read them all. ALL.
Of course, I spent hours in bookstores perusing the shelves, cracking the spine of those with promise, but only taking home the titles deemed to be “valuable” and “must-haves.”Back in those days, I would read on average 150-200 books a year (counting selections from 3-4 area libraries). Plus magazines.
Thing is while I buy digital books at a $1.99 with abandon as well as click on the “Read on Kindle for Free” button like its the button on an old-style pin ball machine, I have completely read very, very few of them.
Truth be told, I have read little more than a few pages of a lot of them.
Is it that digital books don’t provide the same sensuous reading experience as physical books did?
Reading on my Nook in the early years was a “curl up with a good book” experience. And I tended to finish those “books.” So is it that my iPhone nor laptops aren’t as comforting?
Or has the $1.99 price DE-valued both the product and the experience of those titles?
*Like the Harlequin romances I bought for $.25 from an used book store next to my favorite Chinese takeout joint (favorite until they left the door to the kitchen open one visit and I got a good look at the filth and cockroaches) and devoured until I could no longer ignore the simple story patterning, predictable trajectory and “happy ending.”Much later, I cultivated a thing for erotic fiction. That didn’t last long. Mostly for the same reasons. Predictable story lines.
No doubt digital books don’t deliver the same reading experience as physical books. Computers being a cool medium…and not in a hepcat-way.
Physical books engage the senses in ways that bits and bytes do not. Physical books create warm, “snuggly-comfy” reading experience nd depending on the aesthetics of the design and physical materials used to include a sinewy, sensual component as well.
Still, I cannot help but feel that a larger (mostly unnoticed observation til now) issue is that like the Harlequin romance and erotic novels, too many of the books written today are dull and predictable things. Even in non-fiction, too many alike offering up little in the way of ideas that titillate, inform or help us solve the challenging issues of the day.