Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reading, Comfort Zones, and Technology

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a discussion on a writer's group about whether or not the medium by which we read affects the reading experience itself. The comments revolved around the on-going, and dare I say, boring, debate of electronic print books not being "real" books vs. paper print books being the "only books"; the nostalgic aroma of paper print books vs. aroma-free e-books; the warm, fuzzy feeling of holding a "real" book in your hands vs. the hard, cold, impersonal feel of an electronic reader... It was the same old, same old. So I asked myself why I read, and I came up with two reasons: 1) to be entertained and 2) to research/learn about a topic. So for me, the medium by which I am entertained or gain knowledge does not change my reading experience whether I'm reading via electronic print or paper print.
Why does the debate over paper-print vs. electronic-print have to be an either/or ultimatum? I have a plethora of paper-print books and electronic-print books. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. I don't prefer one over the other because each medium meets my reading needs in its own way. The medium by which the printed word is conveyed is simply in is current stage of evolution, which is really the crux of the debate: the evolution of technology. Evolution means change. Change means letting go of familiarity. Letting go of familiarity means leaving your comfort zone. People are "creatures of habit", as the saying goes, and we find it difficult to let go of the things we're comfortable with in order to embrace the latest technology. Every generation since time began has faced this.
I'm a prime example of someone who doesn't deal willingly with technological changes. My introduction to the age of computers was on an Apple IIe then I upgraded to an Apple IIGs, albeit grudgingly. I skipped the Mac stage and went straight to PC. That's when I fell madly in love with Word Perfect. Then the unthinkable happened. Microsoft Office took over the word processing world. I fought the Word, but the Word won. So, under duress, I accepted Microsoft Word 2003.
Then the evil Word 2007 stepped onto the street.
I strapped on my guns, donned my poncho and flat-topped cowboy hat, clamped my teeth down on a stubby cigar, and assumed the squinty-eyed Man with No Name stance. I faced Word 2007 at high noon with both guns blazing, and I ran that bad boy out of town. But to my great chagrin, his younger (and faster-on-the-draw) brother, Word 2010, rode into town, and... Bang, bang, he shot me down. I lost that gunfight, but I'm making a slow recovery as I learn how to work with Word 2010.
So, what's my point? Every generation fears, and initially rejects, what it isn't comfortable with technologically. E-books and e-readers are simply the latest evolutionary development in the area of information- and entertainment-providing media. I will admit that while I have embraced electronic print books wholeheartedly, it hurts me to acknowledge the inevitability that someday paper-print books will go the way of the dinosaur. Selfishly, I hope I don't see that in my lifetime.
Until next time...Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances


Tabitha Blake said...

I agree with you Kaye we tend to fight change tooth and nail. But sometimes if we step back and open ourselves to something new we might just be surprised. I said I would never read on a Kindle and then I won one in a contest and now I only read Kindle books. Change can be a good thing and e-readers don't need paper for printing and that is better for the environment. But this is one of those debates that will never end and no one will win. Everyone has their thoughts on it and everyone has the right to their opinion. Great Blog!

Kaye Spencer said...

Alas, the debate over electronic vs. print will undoubtedly rage on...

Brenda said...

Great post. I wasn't born in the age of computers--I learned how to work a computer from my sons.
I was one of those who thought I'd never like reading a book on an electronic device. I said I would always read paper books. I said this until I got my kindle. Now, well, I love reading via an electronic device.