I had been a voracious reader throughout my childhood. The quality faded with time and once I was into software professionally, it was completely lost. I had hardly touched books over years or read the newspapers regularly. eBooks and specifications or technical papers are the only things I would read and undeniably the advantage to easily search digital records empower even Google. eBooks also have their inherent advantages such as night-time reading: just before hitting the bed, you can enjoying reading you favorite author without interfering with your partner or roommate’s sleep. There are many eBook readers in the market for your handheld devices. They, to some extent, make the reading process easier. For instance, some of the readers come with inbuilt dictionary, so when you get stuck with a word, you can touch the word and the inbuilt dictionary gives the meaning of the word. So it takes less effort and avoids the trouble to refer to a physical dictionary.
However, I observed from two incidents that reading a book for joy or knowledge has more impact than reading the same material in ebooks. One is when I left Dostoevsky’s Notes from the House of the Dead half-read at home during a vacation. The other one was during my MS exam preparations: being naturally abhorrent to (and so ignorant of) DBMS related domains I had very little interest in Data Warehousing which was a mandatory subject. During my mid semester exams I tried to get an understanding from the eBook but it didn’t help me as I could not have a true grasp on the subject, something very rare of me because I saw the subject as a useless compulsion. But when I bought the book a few days before the semester finals and sat down to read it, I finished 3 chapters in a go and with proper understanding!
I believe the reason behind the above two incidents is true concentration. An internet connected device is a window to the world; and also an world of disturbances as long as the reading is concerned. When I am on my laptop reading an eBook, after each 5 minutes I tend to get distracted by one thing or the other… but the case is totally different when I am reading a real book – my full concentration is on the material I am reading. Moreover, there is always that special bond which you develop with the books you love to read. While reading, when we come across a touching or motivating sentence, we mark or memorize the sentence and the process becomes very engaging.
Many experts predict physical books may not stand the taste of coming generations. It might become true if we encourage the future to read only digital media. In my personal opinion, it would be a huge cultural loss and will lead to psychological devolution. We should always encourage kids to read books rather than ebooks so that they enjoy the content fully and develop their power of imagination in the process.