The experience that comes from reading books

“I realize the whole sensory experience I associate with reading is lost when reading digitally.”

Reading a bookSeveral weeks ago, I was reading a book for work on my iPad. It was the only version I had the book in. I was sitting on my patio and taking notes. However, it wasn’t satisfying for me. This led to conversations via email and Twitter over the next couple of days where I came up with the statement above. I realize that I love the ability to physically hold a book, take notes directly in it and just *experience* it. While I know that others do not necessarily feel the same way (and responded that they preferred reading digitally), for me, the entire experience of reading, often laying down in my hammock, sofa, or bed, holding a book, turning the pages, the smell (if it is a new book), the ability to write notes or my thoughts in it (as long as I own it) enhances the entire experience. While reading digitally still brings the same information to me, it is not the same.

It led to a thought that one day, there may only be digital books. A few days ago, I came upon an article from Time (July 11, 2011) “Is a Bookless LIbrary Still A Library?” It discussed how Drexel University has a new bookless library. Drexel’s Library Learning Terrace has “…rows and rows of computers and plenty of seating offering access to the Philadelphia university’s 170 million electronic items.” This is probably the trend and we will see more of this in the future. Both the New York Public Library system and Berlin Free University’s library are designing spaces to accommodate both hard copies of books as well as computers housing their digital collection. As we see more and more of this, will books eventually become obsolete?

I’m very interested in learning more about the digital library trend and where this is heading. If you know of any research or literature, please send it my way.

Leave a Reply