A Change in the Culture of Reading

Manmeet Sidhu

A group of girls busy reading books while some of them are relaxing after reading.

Reading has a vast history. In the manuscript era, scribes copied manuscripts. So there were limited copies and not everybody knew how to read. Also, the reading materials were prized and difficult to afford for most of the population. In those times, a person used to read aloud the text to other people, and they remembered what they listened. Later, in the era of printing press, reading became popular as people had access to more copies of the text. Moreover, literacy started growing slowly. A time came when people used to read all the time and carried their novels or books everywhere. In other words, people became addicted to reading. This whole situation led to an increase in the number of libraries and bookshops. (Bon)

An image showing how e-books are replacing print books.

But things change with time. Nowadays, digital technology is on its high time and it is replacing most of the things to make our lives much easier. Similarly, it has changed the culture of reading drastically. As we all know, paper is the most used writing support, but screens are replacing it. This has been made possible with the help of internet and electronic devices. Amazon invented Kindle, an e-reader which let its users browse, buy, download, and read e-books, newspapers, magazines, and digital media with the help of wireless networking to the Kindle Store. These e-readers look like paper and a user can change brightness, font, font size according to their wish. (Amazon Kindle). But, e-readers are not always necessary for reading online as you can download E-Books (electronic version of printed books available to download and read) on your mobiles, tablets, laptops as well.

E-Books attract people because there are millions of books available to download at lower prices or sometimes for free. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about carrying them as your devices are with you most of the time and you can highlight the text on e-book and make notes the way you like. (Jason Ward)

On the other hand, e-books have disadvantages of their own. While you are reading, hundreds of hyperlinks can distract you and interrupt your reading. Also, reading on screens can include a lot of skimming and skipping of text when under time pressure. As a result, this can make one lack knowledge of a topic. (Jason Ward)

An image showing the bond between eBooks and afforestation.

In my view, the biggest advantage e-books serve is to save the planet. With the increasing deforestation to produce paper, climate change is rising too. Thus, the more e-books we use, the fewer trees are cut and this practice of ours can save the planet and its environment.

In the end, the relationship between technology and reading has an entire new meaning now. In early times, when the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, reading was only related to technology as text was printed by Printing press on the paper whereas now, reading is being done on technology (electronic devices) itself through e-books. This proves that there has been a drastic change in the history of reading.

However, I feel print books are here to stay forever as nothing can replace the joy they give.


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