For convenience, I think being able to read on an iPad (or similar) is great. When I haven’t been able to get to a library or bookshop I have still been able to access books that I want to read (NOW!). However, with the possible exception of Jasper Jones, the books have been quite lightweight in terms of content. They have been easy to follow children’s books (like the interactive and fabulous Morris Lessmore), chick lit or the continuation of a series that I started in paperback.
I wonder how I would go if I was reading was something more complex?
In Melbourne University’s GSA’s Plane Tree (Summer 2012, Vol 18 No 1) Stuart Ellis writes an article titled “Does reading affect our social behaviour?” and in it presents the idea that the nature of reading and the book itself, encourages the brain to fill in the blanks in our senses (and we get lost or immersed in the book) and this is good for our minds and emotional development. So the question is what happens with e-readers and digitally interactive books where additional senses are triggered? Are we less immersed? Also, as Ellis notes – if text is changed by technology so that it includes videos, sound clips etc then it is going to change the amount of work our brains have to do. Does this mean my son (Mr iPad) is going to be less developed in terms of his brain function?
Unrelated to this article, but fitting in with reading electronically and memory is the idea of remembering something as it appeared on the page. If you are a visual learner, you may remember things because of their position on a poster, sign or page. What do you do if that page isn’t a constant, do you remember it as clearly? I think back to locating relevant quotes in books (after reading) and doing it all on what the page looked like and remembering where it was on the page (e.g. RHS middle, or top of LH page), how do you do this with an e-reader – sure you can electronically bookmark, make a note or whatever but the page can change depending on orientation, font and so on, there are few constants in terms of layout. Thus, I get lost.
Despite the concern about brain and emotional development and the gap in my visual memory, I will continue to read e-books because they are so convenient but I wonder what will happen to readers of the future?