An old friend of mine posted an interesting article on Facebook the other day. The article boasts a new app that will supposedly allow readers to finish entire novels in less than an hour and a half. Now, my friend who posted this is probably the biggest bookworm I know, so I wasn’t too surprised to see her post a story like this. But she did raise an interesting point, that while an app like this might encourage a “get it over with” mentality instead of a reading for pleasure one. It is an interesting thought, as college students, we often find ourselves bombarded with readings for class and a busy schedules to fit them in. That’s why so many of us turn to Sparknotes or other summaries. An app that allows us to read quickly may be a good compromise. This debate reminds me of something an old professor said about how you may think reading the summary is nowhere near the joy of reading Hamlet. So is this better? Is technology driven speed-reading the play the same as reading Hamlet?
The whole issue seems like a far less dramatic Fahrenheit 451 to me. I remember reading the novel in high school (in paper form) and having an in class discussion on the merits of e-books and physical paper books. There is something so satisfying about the physical act of opening and closing a book, as opposed to pressing a button or making a sweeping motion with a finger. However, I can see the advantages of eBooks in terms of price and convenience. All of this made me wonder whether eBooks could ever replace traditional books entirely but according to the Wall Street Journal, it isn’t likely. Ebook sales have slowed down significantly while hard cover sales have remained strong. The WSJ also suggests that, much like, audiobooks, e-books will be used to complement books, rather than replace them. According to Pew research, 90% of e-book readers also read physical books (Carr, 2014).
Overall, these statistics are comforting for the fate of traditional books. But I do wonder how physical books will fare over the next hundred years, even if they maintain relevance in our own lifetimes. Personally, I would be likely to use a speed-reading app like the one my friend shared on Facebook for readings for class, but to stick to paper while reading for pleasure. Do you use an e-reader or tablet for books, and do you think that they are likely to replace traditional books?
Carr, N. (2013, January 5). Don’t burn your books—print is here to stay. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002
La Du, C. (2014, March 4). This insane new app will allow you to read novels in under 90 minutes. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/news/technology/this-insane-new-app-will-allow-you-to-read-novels-in-under-90-minutes/