Author: Michael Grass
I’ve always been a book aficionado ever since my mum tucked me in bed one night and started reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea to put me to sleep (it was roughly two years ago). I’m one of those people who gets high off the smell of new print, loves the sound of pages flicking and on occasion has judged a hardback by its front cover because the artwork looked so alluring. I have a shelf in my living room that is strategically placed in a way that guests cannot ignore the titles on display and on weekends you’ll find me at my local Waterstone’s, slouched on a beanbag, an open graphic novel in my hands, a pile of fictions and biographies in my lap.
Now that my love for printed books has been openly professed, you can imagine my surprise and mild bewilderment when I recently got a Kindle Fire as a present. I’m not one to get overly excited about the latest gizmos or tablets released on the market – my latent technophobia won’t allow that – but I must admit even I was enticed by the possibilities this flat piece of hardware presented. Here was a device that allowed me to store more books on a screen than I ever could on my Ikea Billy bookcase and, more intriguingly, I could buy them at the tap of an index finger and start reading them within a couple of minutes. At which, point, an unpleasant realisation had dawned on me: was this the first step towards an apparent (permanent? GULP!) move from print to digital?
Refreshingly, that wasn’t the case. It turns out I was experiencing the kind of elation you get when you unwrap a new toy on Christmas Day, but time has allowed me to gain some perspective on the notion of digital vs print, more importantly on what are the strengths of these two fascinating mediums.
With digital, I’ve come to learn it’s all about storage, instant gratification and interactivity – tablets provide you with an immersive experience that, thanks to wireless connection, goes beyond the conventional reading experience. Print, on the other hand, feels more intimate. You can turn the pages, you can feel the engraved front cover and, thanks to the afore-mentioned bookcases, can be an integral component of your interior decoration. And so far I haven’t asked any authors to sign my Kindle at a book convention either. With that in mind, surely there’s a way for people to appreciate both mediums and walk in both worlds. Or is it just me?