Although the idea of taking an entire selection of great holiday reads abroad in one portable easy-to-use tablet is tempting, booksellers everywhere suggest that our relationship with e-books cannot surpass our relationships with books. Interacting with a book, turning its pages, seeing it transform from being untouched to gathering stains and dog-eared pages, gives us a tangible emotional attachment to it as a physical object. The cognitive act of reading is linked to comprehension and memory and, when you’re exploring new and foreign places, reading a book in an extraordinary place can often be a poignant experience.
There are lots of reasons why taking books on holiday is a better idea than taking e-readers:
- You can enjoy reading a book in direct sunlight, whereas the glossy reflective screen of an e-reader can smudge easily and be distracting.
- Books are a lot cheaper than e-readers!
- Once you have finished reading a book, you can pass it on to other people to share the experience. Lending a book to a friend or stranger makes you feel good. Often travel lodges and hostels will have lending areas where travellers can swap the books they have read on the road.
- Paper isn’t a source of light, whereas most e-readers and tablets are. If we bombard our eyes with artificial light before bedtime we affect the sleep-triggering melatonin which our brain produces after sundown, potentially disrupting our sleep cycles.
- Tablets and e-readers are multi-functional devices which can change our behaviour toward them; concentrated reading periods can often be distracted by online connectivity and gaming.
- Many people read books in order to switch-off and unwind but looking at electronic screens on e-readers and iPads are, to many people, associated with working and thus can alter our reading behaviour and interfere with our need for escapism.
While we hope that the printed book will survive the digital revolution. Reading gives room for the imagination and extended periods of focus. This is increasingly important in today’s multi-media world, in which the over-abundance of information can be heavily distracting.