A Defense of Non-Traditional Reading

It’s a common stereotype that readers are notorious for hating on e-books, audiobooks, and pretty much any form of reading that isn’t a hardcover from 1974 with a faded velvet bookmark. You’ve seen the poorly-formatted memes and comics – kids these days with their “Kindles” and “Nooks,” not reading scrolls by candlelight like we did in ye olde America. What happens when your e-reader’s battery is drained, or you can’t find your headphones?

Don’t get me wrong, “non-traditional” forms of reading aren’t perfect. The blue light from our smartphones and e-readers is considered harmful, though there continue to be ways to work around that effect. You could argue that people tend to retain written information better when it is on a page rather than a screen. And of course, the aesthetic – there is nothing quite like having a beautiful collection of books to surround yourself with.

At the beginning of the month, my campus library posted this poll on their bulletin board:

12 library poll

And recently in my papermaking/bookmaking class, we’ve been talking about how books and the methods we prefer to use when we read them. Despite what the memes suggest, people of my generation still love printed text.

Unfortunately, this love of traditional reading often comes with a disdain for other ways of consuming books. But let me confess something: I love having e-books and audiobooks. As time passes, they’ve become a more present part of my reading experience, and I’m incredibly thankful for it. These days, when I hear someone mocking non-traditional reading, it takes a lot out of me not to start an argument. So instead of starting an argument in person, I’ve decided to write a little bit about why e-books and audiobooks are in some ways better than printed pages.

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