There is an interesting connection between ebooks and memory. There are comments on this in many places (Scholarly Kitchen, Time, Scientific American) but Verlyn Klinkenborg sums it up nicely:
I finish reading a book on my iPad — one by Ed McBain, for instance — and I shelve it in the cloud. It vanishes from my “device” and from my consciousness too. It’s very odd.
This is familiar to those who read ebooks but it is really not that strange. Despite being different contents the ebook text lacks dimensions and differences that help our memories. Books have different covers, fonts, layouts, graphical elements, paper quality and more. They are marked by use: Old books are creased and sometimes stained. There may be a coffee stain on a page in your favorite book that will evoke a memory of the reader spilling coffee while reading. While attempting to find a passage in a paper book we can remember how far in the book the text appeared, that it was on the left or right and whether it was at the top of the page or not.
These dimensions are not available in ebooks. Most readers have only one font. Layouts barely vary, and if you have a stain on the screen, it appear on every page. All the ebooks weigh the same, look the same and smell the same. Only the text (not the font) varies. Because of this we struggle to remember texts we read in ebooks and this also effects our ability to understand new texts.
While I recognize the issue when it comes to ebooks. Does it really have the same effect with other e-reading? Many of us spend most of our days reading of screens. Blogs, emails and Wikipedia. Not to mention all the time we spend on online news and reading/re-reading our own writing. Are these more or less forgetful, compared with their physical counterparts? Or does the geography and variation of the web enable us to remember these more.
Is it not e-reading in general that makes us forget, but rather the poor design & format of the medium that hinders our memory? It could be that the screen based format is not the optimal for longer continuous texts.
Paper books are nothing more than the corpses of dead trees and other cool one-liners abound. But why do people chose to prefer one version over another?
Fatbrain asked around and created this infographic.
What are the top reasons for choosing a real life, lo-fi, analogue, hardcopy book over the digital option? In a recent poll we asked 1,000 Fatbrainers just that. Here’s what they told us.
Anyone vaguely following the discussion on books and reading will come across posts like the rise of e-books, the demise of reading and the need for change in libraries. The latter is particularly poignant as libraries struggle to adapt to social media and become venues and experiences rather than… well, you know… libraries. The question is can we have a library without books?
Evelyn Juers knows where she stands, and writes in What is a library without books? that
Sydney’s Mitchell Library Reading Room should be kept as a place of books and readers and intellectual exchange, not transformed into a social hub
Is the problem that the use/usability/usefulness of libraries cannot (should not) be decided by popular majority opinion? Or is this just an opinionated paternalistic view of the world?
Collections by Wrote CC BY NC
Just love the text Librarian in Black writes about ending her relationship with eBooks I’m breaking up with eBooks (and you can too)
I want to break up with eBooks. Don’t get me wrong, eBooks is dead sexy and great arm candy at parties, as well as a magnet for attention and memorable experiences. But man…eBooks makes for a crap boyfriend. This relationship is as dysfunctional as it gets.
The flash of the ebook may be losing some of its glamor and I do miss many of the things that paper books had (ease of use and tactile sensation) but I am not sure if I am ready for a clean break just yet… I may just have to keep seeing them on the side?
Librarian in Black has written a wonderful text – read it!