Now that I’ve been reading books on the iPad/iPhone for about two years, I’m taking stock of some evolving patterns in my reading preferences. A few trends I’ve noticed about myself as a reader:
- I enjoy reading books that I would consider as “fluffy” or “light” (while still very gratifying!) fiction on the iPad or iPhone. Not only do I seem to concentrate better on these types of texts in digital format, but I also seem to read more quickly.
- Nonfiction is a mixed bag for me–initially, I didn’t notice a difference in my reading experiences of nonfiction from print to digital, but in recent months, I have felt a need to read nonfiction in print—the digital form of highlighting and notetaking just doesn’t seem to meet my needs like sticky notes, highlighted passages, and marginalia composed in my own hand.
- Rereads of favorite fiction are definitely more enjoyable for me in print—I would say the sensory experiences I’ve associated with previous readings of a text in print are the primary reason for this preference.
I had not tried reading a book of poetry in digital format until this weekend. In the midst of a poetry reading binge on Sunday, I finished two and a half books in print format and one in eBook format. While I enjoyed all of the poetry reads, I quickly realized the experience of reading a collection of poems in the digital format was not gratifying, and in fact, felt quite uncomfortable—it was akin to putting on a cozy, familiar old sweatshirt and discovering it was suddenly scratchy and ill-fitting. I literally had difficulty concentrating and soaking in the sensory experiences of the poems; the poems almost seemed sterile in eInk. Now perhaps this is just a personal reading quirk, but the experience left me with these immediate reactions:
1. I will purchase all future collections of poetry in print (unless I have a desperate midnight craving for a book that I feel compelled to read in the wee hours of the morning)
2. Do others have preferences for certain genres in print vs. digital formats? I’m guessing they do.
3. How and to what extent is the sensory aspect of reading impacted by a print version versus a digital edition? I know that question has been the subject of some mockery, but I think this is a legitimate and serious question to consider as readers have diverse needs.
4. What are the implications of these kinds of questions or points for consideration when thinking about print and digital collection development?
What are your experiences as a reader? Do you have a preference for certain genres in certain formats, or have you noticed your preferences evolving over time? I realize what I experienced this weekend and the patterns I’ve noticed are not unique or earth-shattering, but the absolute dissonance I felt with my transaction with the poetry text in digital format are prompting me to think a little more critically about these questions.