My World of Reading- Part I

Ryan Bretag’s blog posts Reading Digitally: Exploring the World of eBooks sparked the desire in me to continue documenting about my experiences as my reading habits are changing. I want to reflect upon and complete the following sentence:

My World of Reading is…

What does reading mean for me in 2011? How do I read? What media and method do I prefer? Where will I go from here? How do I feel about the comment “I like the smell of books”?

I have reflected by writing periodically about my reading in the past:

Ryan Bretag, in the above mentioned blog posts, lists other great questions about reading digitally. He  is focusing in on a conversation that deeply intrigues me, a conversation that is centered

on our mindsets about reading digitally, eBooks, digital texts, and teacher created (ePub) materials. While there is the obvious discussion about potential cost savings and green focus, the core is the notion of learning, literacy, engagement, reading habits, personalized devices, and social media.

In his blog post he asks the following questions.

  • Will books become entirely digital?
  • What is the difference between reading digitally or in print?
  • What do we lose and what do we gain?
  • How do we define literacy and what does this mean in the context of an always on, content rich society that is highly social?
  • Are the habits of reading evolving with the web and digital content?
  • Is there an environmental and fiscal responsibility?
  • What are the expectations of future generations?
  • What does research tell us about reading digitally? What are the cautions? warnings? gaps?
  • Would you exchange your print books and texts for digital pieces if it also provided students an iPad?
  • How do we begin the discussion in order to engage in a meaningful discussion that leads to action?
  • What is reading?
  • What happens when reading becomes social?
  • What happens to reading when readers have access to their own personalized device?

Ryan did not stop by answering these questions for himself, but created the following pilot program for members of his instructional team to collaboratively explore their world of reading.

Reading Digitally: Exploring the World of eBooks summer pilot

where educators (teachers, librarians, and administrators) across disciplines and position focus on themselves as readers.[…] Therefore, the purpose of this pilot is to explore the experience of reading digital books as readers and members of a society immersed digitally. Through this exploration as readers, we will come to better discuss the experience of reading digitally and move the discussions into future phases that focus on the perspective of learning and teaching.

So here is my attempt to answer the prompts:

Will books become entirely digital?

I don’t believe that traditional books (printed on paper) will become “extinct” in our lifetime. We have to remember that not every person in the world has electricity, nor Internet connectivity, nor the desire to go digital. While I can see the possibility that ALL the books I will purchase in MY future might be digital, I think that there might be a gradual phase out of printed books as more and more people purchase digital only. I do know that I have moved with my existing, physical books across three continents and do not plan on abandoning any time soon these individual letters that form words,  sentences, paragraphs and are printed on paper and bound together to create meaning and stories. (Can you tell that I have a relationship with books?)

I hear many readers, who have made the jump to e-readers, say that they read non-fiction and books in their professional library as ebooks, but still prefer to read their novels and other fiction books on paper. Initially I started out that way too, but am realizing already that the ability for me to:

  • carry all my books in one convenient device
  • have immediate access to books in other languages
  • be able to organize my library easier and more conveniently (also, don’t have to dust them)
  • be able to share books with my mother (who lives in Argentina and has my old Kindle connected to my Amazon account now)
  • make it easier on my wrists when reading the otherwise heavy historic novels ( I like to read in bed).

Take a look at the following articles to form your own opinion about printed books becoming extinct:

What is the difference between reading digitally or in print?

Nowadays, I am reading more digitally than in print. Not only because of blog posts, internet sites from different countries, twitter, etc, but because I have digital print more readily available anytime, anywhere. I always carry my iPhone and/or iPad around with me.  I have over 50 books on my Kindle app, ready for me to open, read, highlight, add a note, take a screenshot, share a quote via my social network, etc. I don’t recall ever having brought along more than one paper book in my purse other than a travel-guide or a book when heading out on a long flight. Now I carry an entire library with me. So, those are some logistic reasons why reading digitally is different than reading in print.

But what about other differences?

While I might skim reading an online blog post or through my Twitter feed, I don’t feel like I am skimming more or less an e-book than a paper book. I always have been a fast reader and I am not realizing  if I seem to be reading faster digitally than in print.

I am just reading more, since I have more available to me. I remember starting to get ansy when I was about to finish a book, since I had not another one readily available at home to continue reading. I had to wait until my next trip to town to a bookstore.

I remember the days before Barnes & Noble or Amazon, when

  • the “bookstore” (in Germany) was only a few shelves in a department store.
  • I had to save all my allowance to be able to buy my next book.
  • the only bookstore that carried German books (in Argentina) was two bus rides and about 1 1/2 hours away.
  • the bookstore (in Argentina) was not a pleasant place to hang out, no chairs, no coffee shop and unimaginable that you would be allowed to actually start reading the book before you would buy it.

As I am reading, I am using the build-in dictionary regularly on my iPad. Maybe because English is my third language…Maybe native speakers don’t… Doing this on the iPad is something that has become fluent. Looking up a word, does not interrupt my flow of reading. I do not perceive it to slow me down as having to set my physical book aside to pick up another one, the dictionary, and then look up the world to then pick up the original book again to place the word in the context.I don’t remember using a dictionary much before the iPad.

In order for this blog post to not go on forever, I will continue answering Ryan’s prompts in part II of “My World of Reading”. Stay tuned.

What are you noticing as you compare your digital vs. printed reading habits? Have you blogged about it? Documented it? Or would you just like to share here in the comments?