a blog that covers reviews, travel logs and research infos etcetera etcetera: mumtaz.blogspot.com

Reading, eReading and Listening

Reading a book is an act that does not require a physical paper-book anymore; now there are different media options to read, listen, and/or watch a book. This blog gives a general overview of paper books, electronic books, and audiobooks.

Many years ago I used to conceit books readable in dark without lights turned on or bothering others sleeping around. A floating book with glowing text that could turn pages automatically with a small gesture of an eye; or a small stationary window in the space with text moving like a ticker. Things have been improved and various innovative multimedia technologies have been emerged; now, beside paper books, we have options to read ebooks, listen audiobooks, and watch movies that are developed based on the published literature.

Paper books and ebooks fall under the same category that is a kind of reading material whereas audiobooks are significantly different and can be categorized as listening material. A majority of people believes that reading a paper book is the most natural phenomenon as compared to other options. However, Prof. Drout explains this approach in his work “The Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion” and describes speaking and listening as the most natural phenomenon. For Drout, reading is a pretty recent thing compared with listening; for instance, speeches and sermons have been evolving for ages. 

I have been using all of the reading options recently therefore I guess its good time to summarize them here.

Reading a physical paper book lets you enjoy the true meaning of words and real essence of sentences. You can analyze the way words are used and the context in which sentences are crafted. It allows you to easily repeat and memorize things, ideas, and situations. You can take notes or highlight paragraphs you like more; later you can revisit them anytime and read highlighted parts again. Furthermore, there is nothing better than reading a paper book of your favorite author while relaxing in the couch or trying to sleep while signing off the day.

On the other hand, today in the digital age, there are many ebook readers available with various options to improve your reading experience. For instance, you can change text size, style and color, page texture, background light and tone that is more soothing for your eyes. Moreover, in seconds you can download books of your choice and carry hundreds of them with you in a single ebook-reader while traveling across the globe or trying to save space at your home. Gone are the days when you had to visit book stores or explore library catalogs to find a book; now you can search books online and download with a single click or a tap of your finger. Some people believe that ebooks are greener than paper books but I am not sure if that is actually true.

The third option, that is Audiobooks, provides awesome experience for speed readers and good listeners. While ebooks are good to save space audiobooks are great to save time as well. You can listen audiobooks while driving, walking, running around or working out in a Gym. A good narrator can let you emotionally experience the situation that authors want their readers to be in. Likewise, a chopping, strained, monotonic or incomprehensible narration can ruin the real essence of a book.

In short, all three categories has their advantages and disadvantages: paper books provide classic reading experience; after reading you can share them with others as well. eBooks provide enhanced reading experience but sharing may not be an option here. For lectures, sermons, documentaries and informational reads, audiobooks are you friends. The future books are going to provide all options i.e. reading, listing and watching. For instance, authors can deliver lectures, provide related reading materials and demonstrate their ideas in a single book.

On Jan 31, 2012 US novelist Jonathan Franzen writes on ebooks and declares that ebooks are damaging the society. In his words:

“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now.”

“Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.”

I think he is right!  The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.”


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