Print/Digital, Part the Whatevereth
My 1st hint that eBooks weren’t going to do to novels what MP3s did to CDs? All 3 of my electronics loving boys decline to read on a screen.
— Joe Hill (@joe_hill) December 4, 2013
My experience with my own kid is in line with Joe’s. Athena can and does read on a screen quite frequently — she’s a fan of Wattpad and reads lots of stuff there — but at the same time she loves having print books and visiting the book store to get more of the same. She would better describe her own relationship with print and digital, but I suspect an either/or mentality about it would be puzzling to her. It would be asking her whatever her favorite soda is better in a bottle or a can. It’s still her favorite soda regardless of packaging.
My own current relationship with print and digital is primarily a question of functionality and circumstance. I find myself buying a lot of print books because I like the physicality of books and because I make it a point to support my local bookstore. When I give books as gifts, I tend give them as physical things, because the physicality of the gift matters to me in an ineffable way. But I also buy digital copies of many books I already own, because it’s easier than dragging the physical book out of storage, and I also buy digital books for travel because of space and weight considerations (and given how much I travel, this is not a trivial thing). Like my kid, I am adept enough in the digital world that reading a novel there doesn’t strike me as a notable difference. Again, it’s a can or bottle thing.
What I find myself really on board with the digital medium for is not books but magazines and comics. At the peak of my magazine subscribing career I subscribed to about fifteen magazines a month, and the pile of used magazines was, frankly, insane. Now I subscribe to Next Issue and it’s pretty much a joy to zip through a dozen magazines on my Nexus 10 and not worry about dropping the issues into the recycling bin afterward. I feel the same way about comics and graphic novels — I read more episodic graphic storytelling now than I ever did before because Comixology makes it easy for me to find what I want to read and not have to worry about the clutter afterward. I obviously don’t have the collector mindset, here.
I don’t find digital has had any effect on how many books I buy — I was going to buy tons in any event — but it has had an impact on how many magazines and comics I buy (aside from my Next Issue subscription I also subscribe digitally to other magazines). So to that extent the digital world both increases the amount I read and increases the amount I spend (and send to creators), and that’s only a positive thing, I think.