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To Read Or Not To Read (A Hard Copy Book): That is the Question


Hard Copy, Please

By Michelle Wang

Buttery, matte pages flicking underneath your fingers. You’re diving in, taking the plunge into a world of words. Reading a book is the experience you can’t separate from the literal pages you’re holding in your hands. It’s the joy of being lent, or lending, a book to a friend dog-eared and creased, maybe coffee-stained or with mystery crumbs in the spine. Or it might be in perfect condition, contacted, with only tidy corner folds. The book you never returned to the library, now it’s yours; or it still has a price tag from Borders (remember that sprawling book haven?). It’s an object imbued with the rich possibilities of the worlds in its pages as well as the memories around it. Who can resist the nostalgia within pages and pages?

I’ll acknowledge that there’s convenience in an electronic reader, but so is there in a sleeping bag or a blow-up mattress. They’re portable and, for a short amount of time, even kind of fun, but then the novelty wears off and you want a good night’s sleep in a proper, comfy bed. The real thing, the real deal – it just can’t be replaced. How can you replace that feeling of marking your progress through the book, or the satisfaction of realising the bookmark has inched past halfway? And sometimes, you just want a good ol’ sniff, a whiff of those pages, be they brand-new smelly or ripe with history. And then there are times, when you’ll need it to prop up a desk or a chair temporarily, or to shield the sun. There is just endless utility and joy in a physical book!

To the naysayers who want a library of choice at their fingertips: don’t deny that curating the reads you’ll take with you is part of the fun, and so is playing luggage Tetris with said selections. So is going to the bookshop at the airport, or discovering your local library. We have smartphones and gadgets for when we need quick morsels of encyclopaedic information or trivia fact checking. As for the wonderful world of reading? Let’s not corrupt it with new-fangled, technology ridden, iPhone X level ~interfaces~. Take off your computer face briefly. Hold a book in your hands. Rifle through it. Smell the pages. Read it. Book is pure and good. Book is human’s best, inanimate friend.


The Kindle Reigns Supreme

By Catherine Macarounas

Growing up, I dreamed of having a big, beautiful library full of all of my favourite books. I used to spend my weekends scouring op-shops to find hidden gems in the second-hand book section. My little library spilled over my bookcase into teetering piles on the floor of paperbacks I had excitedly bought but never got around to reading.

Unfortunately, life happened and our family had to move houses pretty much once a year between 2010 and 2015. When you move houses, you realise that you have a lot of stuff. Not only did I have a lot of stuff in general, I had a lot of books that I soon realised were really heavy. About three houses in, I decided I’d had enough of cardboard moving boxes succumbing to the weight of my excessive book collection.

I sorted through all my books, kept my favourites and those that had sentimental value and decided to donate the rest. Then, I embraced new age reading: the Kindle.

Whilst browsing the Kindle store isn’t as fun as trips to your local bookshop, I have embraced the Kindle life for a number of reasons:

  1. Kindles aren’t heavy. Not only can I move my entire book collection without taping together any cardboard moving boxes, I always keep my Kindle in my bag so I can be instantly book-ready in any boring situation.
  2. You can make the font really big. I used to make fun of my Dad for doing this, but it’s actually really useful when you’ve forgotten your glasses or your brain is tired and foggy.
  3. You can read in the dark! This is great for sneaking in a few extra hours of reading on family holidays when your siblings are being uncompromising about sleeping arrangements.
  4. You can highlight passages and make notes, as well as search for a certain scene, phrase or word, which has been helpful for writing essays.
  5. The dictionary. When you’re stuck on a word that you haven’t seen before you can easily search its meaning and expand your vocabulary.

Whilst I believe that real life, great-smelling paperbacks will always have a place in our lives, the Kindle has made my love of reading more accessible; I hold it as dear as any book.