Saturday 22 November 2014

Kindle conflict: It's all about turning those pages

Curling up with a good screen doesn't quite have the same ring to it

Published 25/08/2014 | 10:36

There is some actual science that will back me up on my unwavering sentiment (Stock Photo)
There is some actual science that will back me up on my unwavering sentiment (Stock Photo)

My favourite part of going back to school was the smell of new books.

Taking into account most of the textbooks I used were passed down from relatives or my sister, this fresh scent was an especially lovely treat.

Coming from a family of booklovers, my friends would hate to hang out in my parent’s house.

The TV was often off and we’d relax in the evenings reading books instead of staring at the box.

I would annoy friends at sleepovers by keeping the light on – not to play pranks – but purely to finish another chapter.

(I still do that now when my country mice come up to stay over but it’s harder to remember that last segment of the tale with a liver full of wine.)

So when my parents were gifted a Kindle – an ‘I don’t know what to get them’ present from my sister – I was horrified.

Who had we become?  Granted, over the years, we became more technologically focussed with the times. 

TV screens multiplied, Commodore 64s morphed into iPads, and land lines were only used when older relatives called with invariably bad news.

But part of my ideal book romance was imagining myself sitting in a bay window with an apple – yes I did steal the scene from ‘Little Women’. 

In reality, I’d more likely be munching on chocolate with tea in bed, but that’s besides the point.

There is something about the dog ears of a well thumbed novel that makes me sigh, the panic when I feel mere tens of pages of an excellent book left in my right hand knows no other.

Flicking back to re-read a description, a quote, a reference – this is a beauty that inputting a term into a search engine cannot match.  

More books have made me laugh and cry than all the sad tales, comedians, films – and yes, real people – ever have done. ‘Leave me alone so that I can weep over the death of fictional characters’ is a phrase that I closely identify with.

But it’s all about turning those pages. Swiping the screen to me seems as vacuous and as disconnected as interacting on Tinder. What’s so romantic and memorable about that?

And, hurrah, there is some actual science that will back me up on my unwavering sentiment. 

According to research carried out at a Norway university (Scandinavians know everything), despite the popularity of e-books, digital readers don’t actually remember the text as well.

The study at Stavanger University revealed that Kindle readers paled in performance remembering plot sequences when pitted against those reading text in print.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no denying that digital is the way forward – but curling up with a good screen doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

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