E-Reading

The Largely Irrational Reasons I’m Not Ready to Go All-Digital

ebook-vs-paperbookI’m a fan of digital reading. I like highlighting without a highlighter, I like not having to dust invisible books, I like the instant gratification of becoming interested in a title and immediately being able to have it. It’s not my main method of reading, but I appreciate the benefits and have slowly accepted that it will probably be my children’s most familiar way of ingesting books, even if it’s never mine. Ebooks: I’m in your corner.

But! (You knew that was coming, right?) I haven’t made the total switch. I still buy more physical books than ebooks, even though I don’t have room for them. Despite my support for ebooks, I’m reluctant to make a full commitment to my Nook–and my reservations are almost completely fear-based.

Numero uno: the kid aspect. The conventional wisdom is that having a house full of books a reader does make, right? Despite the fact that my parents didn’t have books in the house and I turned into an insatiable bookish black hole, I cling to the fear that if I go all digital, my kids won’t grow up with books towering over them at all times, and will therefore not be interested in reading. I’ve heard that seeing your parents reading can be just as influential as seeing books scattered about, but on most ereaders and tablets, parents could just as easily be playing Angry Birds. Will the effect be the same? Am I willing to risk it?

My second reservation is based in reading too many dystopias: the cloud makes me nervous. What if one day some shady government agency/corporation decides we’re no longer allowed to read X, and deletes them from our readers? No squirreling copies away in nooks and crannies in our homes a la Ray Bradbury–we won’t have any physical copies. That weird incident where Amazon deleted 1984 from Kindles gives me pause. Does a dependence on e-readers make civil disobedience harder? I know this is a bit paranoid, but here I am, making decisions based on it. I’m going to have to convince myself that the general public has read enough sci-fi to never let this happen.

(Related: what if some grave apocalyptic event happens and society crumbles and we can’t charge our readers anymore? THIS IS WHAT KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT I’m only sort of kidding.)

Finally, a more personal (and maybe less irrational) issue: if I start going all digital now, my existing physical book collection will be frozen in time. I won’t be able to casually browse my reading history via book spines past whatever year I make the switch. My bookshelves will be stuck in 2012 and the years before. I still have a good 70 years of reading left to me, God willing. Talk about stunted growth. Which brings me to a subpoint: I don’t want to get rid of my existing physical book collection because of the memories and marginalia attached to the books (I’m a visual lady). Will my memory cues be as strong with ebooks? Will I ever casually browse my Nook library and think, wow, I remember the donut I was eating when I read that? I don’t know.

So those are the largely irrational, vaguely kooky thoughts that keep me from ditching my bookshelves and being besties with my Nook. Those of you who have made the switch- how did you deal with these issues/did they even concern you to begin with? Those who haven’t but want to- what’s stopping you?