iReading

I’m in reading purgatory. While I love my iPad, I have yet to read a book on it. I read newspaper and magazine articles on my iPad. Blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts. I depend on it for quick sports updates and entertainment news. And I love it for YouTube videos. I even take notes on it in meetings. But, reading a book on my iPad? Now that’s a commitment I’m not prepared to make.

My dilemma began when I went on Amazon to order a business book. It was $25. But the iPad version was only $19. My cheap side said, “Save $6! Order the iPad version!” But something deep down in the core of my being said, “You don’t want to read that book on a stinkin’ iPad. You want the paper version. You want to mark the important parts with a yellow highlighter. You want to take it to the beach without worrying about sand or water. You want to smell that new paper smell. Let’s face it, you want to turn those pages and feel the paper in your hands.”

The core of me is right: I want all those things. I appreciate how much easier it is to put a hundred books on an iPad rather than carrying them around individually. But it just feels like something’s missing to me.

I’m aging myself, but I grew up with books. Lots of books. When I was in junior high, we had to check books out of the library for every paper we wrote. And libraries had wooden card catalogues instead of computers. There was an actual card for every book that listed descriptive information and where it was found. We flipped through these cards, one by one, until we found what we were looking for. It was a very tangible process.

I like tangible. Tangible is real to me. I have a 25-year-old Rolodex of phone numbers that’s sat in my office untouched for ten years. I haven’t had the heart to throw it out. . . until recently. So I’m making progress.

My house and my office are packed with books. Being surrounded by the written word comforts me. It feels warm and homey and real. My iPad doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies like that.

I remember watching Star Trek as a little kid. I was always struck by how streamlined their living quarters were. There was hardly anything in the room besides a bed. Everything they needed to know was available through the computer. “Computer,” they would say, “tell me the history of XYZ.” And the computer would reply. We’re getting pretty close to that now.

Between Siri and that weird voice on my GPS, I get plenty of computer interaction every day. But computer interaction is not warm or comforting. Human interaction is. Somehow a printed book feels more real, more human – more tangible – than an iPad. (Ironic since the iPad is founded on “touch.”)

I’m sure I’ll eventually adapt – just like I did with my Rolodex (may it rest in peace). But, for now, even though my iPad talks, it’s still books that speak to me.

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