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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Paper Books or Digital?

A rainy day, a cozy place, a book in hand . . . oh, the joys of a good read!

The debate about digital books versus paper ones begins.

I totally understand it.

I resisted the e-book idea for years. Who wants to spend more time at a screen than he has to? How about eyestrain and sitting?

Then, my husband bought me a Kindle.** I found it easy to use—even for a non-techie like me. I started buying books in English, online, with Amazon’s Whispernet. In less than half a minute, I have a new book. And now, I’m actually accessing my books on a cloud! Amazing! I love it that I can read in bed with my nifty difty reading light (built into the cover) while my husband sleeps soundly beside me. Oh yes, this is progress!

A purist would miss the musty smell of old pages and the feel of a book in his hands. I understand. There is nothing that calls to me more than a library of leather-bound books. In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, when Belle sees the library, I feel her wonder. I remember a tour of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC entering its library. I truly could have remained in that one room for the rest of the day . . . .

The pages of a book offer everything. You never know what awaits until you open that world and begin to read. Each cover is a door. Each page is meaning.

A book can transport you to exotic places and historical times. It can give you the adventure of a lifetime—while you sit in your living room. It can produce tears, laughter, romance, and sorrow. A great writer appeals to all the senses and to your heart. A wonderful book makes you think and feel, judge, and enjoy.

The words make the book.

There are, thankfully, many good new authors coming to the fore. Some are frankly awesome. They have a gift for wording that borders on poetry. They understand how to use the right word at the right moment, how to weave them together, how to make a single sentence memorable.

I’m seeing new trends in fiction. Plots are more complex. Characters are more fleshed out. (Sometimes, the plots are so complex that I find myself lost in the tos-and-fros.) I love the action and movement. Some authors describe scenes so well that you end up breathless. Many authors have mastered the secret of writing page-turners. Subject doesn’t really matter as much as the pace. The author makes you want to find out more. Today’s authors cut and cut and cut, so that what you have left is what’s necessary to tell the story. (This change is in both fiction and non-fiction.) I am happy, as this style suits my natural impatience.

I recently finished up an excellent Bible study on the book of Job.* It’s a paper book. It has blank lines in it. It asks thoughtful questions and poses ideas, and you write your thoughts or what the Bible passage says. I can’t imagine doing a Bible study in any other format. Without being able to read, write, read, and write, and then go back over what you filled in, you would never get out of the Bible study what you should. I think definitely paper for Bible studies.

I use Online Bible** for research, but for devotional reading and looking for context, there’s nothing like the thin pages of print in a real Bible. I also still find it easier to flip back and forth in a real Bible that to have to type in references on my computer.

I absolutely love what many people call a “coffee table book.” It’s a book that has a lot of pictures in it, usually exceptional photography. How, I ask, could you possibly get the same effect on a screen? I don’t see it happening any time soon. I am very visual and own at least two dozen such books. I love them and won’t be replacing them digitally, ever.

And, oh, the shelves full of classics, missionary biographies, Bibles, women’s devotionals, studies, and fun reading in my home . . . . Not going anywhere any time soon.

There’s still nothing like a rainy day, a cozy place, and a good book in hand.

*Grace for Every Trial, reviewed here.
**Love both Kindle and Online Bible! Yes, these are endorsements.


  1. También prefiero el tacto y la lectura con libros de papel, es una sensación que no se puede obtener con un libro electrónico, aunque estos también tengan sus ventajas.

    1. Thank you, Tere, for your comment. God bless you!

  2. I agree. Not one or the other, but both! With my digital reader, I am ready for an interruption. And I agree that the pages of Scripture, for me, are easier to access in the printed page.

    And when it comes down to it, writing and reading are about the words, however they come to us. Thanks for a well-written piece.

    1. Thank you for your visit, Sheila. I agree: both!

  3. I don't have a Kindle, but I have a Kindle app on my HP Touchpad and iPhone. I like it mainly because you can find so many good books free or for just a few dollars, and because when traveling I can just take my Touchpad and not a stack of books. :-) I do still prefer the feel of a paper book in my hands as opposed to a tablet, and to me it's a bit easier to flip back and forth in a book if I want to go back and remember what a person's name or situation was, etc. - sometimes I vaguely know about where in the book I saw what I was looking for, but not so much with e-books. I also discovered an icon that would lead me to all the places I had highlighted while reading the book, a great handy reference. (It took me a long time to explore all the little icons to figure out what they were.)

    Some of my paper and hardback books are like friends - such memories associated with reading them. My husband doesn't understand keeping books, especially novels, once they're read, but sometimes I love to reread or refer back to them.

    I was listening to a message by Jim Berg the other day, and in one place he was saying that he's a techie and likes his iPad and has Bible study aids on there, but for regular devotions he'd rather use his Bible, because he uses his iPad for multiple things and can get easily distracted wanting to check his e-mail and such, but with his Bible, he only uses it for reading and study, so it lessens the distractions.

    A great place for free or sales e-books is It's not 100% Christian - I've found a Mormon book there once - but it mostly is.

    1. Oh yes, the portability of the digital library! I really have enjoyed that feature, especially on our last trip. Just put it in your purse, and away you go, with at least 20 new books waiting for you! (I only read two or three, but it was great not to take physical copies, especially with today's luggage weight restrictions.)

      And, yes, the memories stored up in some of my books!

      I love to reread after several years, especially a fun book. Sometimes, I don't even remember how it ended, so it's almost like new. :o)

      Thanks for the Inspired Reads recommendation. I have also found SpiritFilledKindle to be good for good buys and good books.

      Thank you, Barbara, and God bless!

  4. I agree, digital and paper books are both good! But I must say there is a comfort in reading my bible as I hold it in my hands.

    1. Thank you, Lauren. I love your word "comfort." There's a comfort in the Scriptures as well as in holding them. God bless you!


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