Tuesday, August 5, 2014

No, I Won’t Use an e-Reader by Mark Rubinstein

No, I Won’t Use an e-Reader

Let me begin by saying I love books, whether electronic or paper. I’ll read on my Kindle or a “regular” book. Frankly, I’ll read on whatever’s available. I just love reading and being transported to another world beyond my own. It’s pleasurable to share the domain the writer has created. It’s a realm to which I bring my own thoughts, feelings, fantasies and experiences, all of which no doubt, color my reading experience. It’s the experience of taking in the writer’s creation that’s so meaningful, not the medium by which it’s delivered.

I’ve heard many people refuse to consider using an e-reader. There seems to be an impenetrable wall of resistance to even the notion of using a reading device. It’s the usual mantra about loving the “feel” or “smell” of paper, or the pleasure derived from holding a real book in hand; or perhaps it’s the physical act of turning pages; or the heft of the book itself.

I too, love the sensory elements of reading a paper book, but that hasn’t precluded me from using an e-reader. After all, one reading medium doesn’t rule out the other.

Why do some people refuse--absolutely reject--the idea?

It’s not that they’re knuckle-draggers or technophobes because they often have smart phones, iPods, computers and Skype. And, I’ve noticed the repudiation of e-readers isn’t limited to older people. I know plenty of people under forty who, despite being completely comfortable with the technology of our times, want absolutely nothing to do with reading devices.

So, what exactly causes them to spurn this one technology?

I’ve thought about it as a psychiatrist, writer and avid reader. Maybe it’s because reading is something cultivated over the course of a lifetime, often beginning in childhood. Many book-lovers were read to as children—by a parent, babysitter, or some other adult. It was, for most of us, a very special thing.

“Read me a story” is something most of us can remember asking, if we think back to our earliest formative years. “Being read to” is an experience which becomes embedded in our psyches as a distinct and unique childhood pleasure. It’s loaded with meaning, and is suffused with memories of nestling on Mommy’s or Daddy’s lap; the look of the book with its bright, colorful illustrations; or the feel of the paper while we helped turn the pages. The physical book itself became the symbol housing the powerful emotional satisfaction of having parental attention bestowed upon us, with all its attendant meanings.

The book encapsulated a deep sense of pleasure, safety, wonder, satisfaction, and above all, love. These early experiences, and their residue, linger with us, and can have enormous emotional resonance.

On a pre-conscious level, perhaps some of us refuse to even try an e-reader because our minds view it as a renunciation of one of life’s earliest pleasures.

It’s merely my theory, but when I reflect upon how readily other technologies are embraced, none of them carry the primal significance of a “book in the hand.”

Mark Rubinstein,
Author, “Mad Dog House”


  1. I love this look at the controversy. I, too, don't see a big deal whether I'm reading a print book or an e-book. They both transport me into the world of the writer. Of all my childhood memories, though, I don't remember being read to. I do remember lying on the hardwood floor in front of a handcrafted bookcase which my father made, poring through encyclopedias. I loved the pictures, then, when I could read, I devoured the classic myths that were included. That's where I see the birth of my love for reading. Thanks for this post.

  2. I thought I would not like an e-reader until I felt compelled to buy one since my own book was to be released as an e book. It didn't take long to fall in love with my Kindle Paperwhite for several reasons. After decades of acquiring physical books, there isn't any more room. My husband and I are trying to move books out of the house not into the house. I also appreciate the instant availability of new reading material and the bargains. I bought the Kindle a month before I broke my ankles and was housebound for several months. My Kindle became my constant companion, and remains so. I don't get cranky waiting around for people because I have something to read wherever I am. One more reason: I am quite nearsighted and I like enlarging the font. Okay really only one more reason! The Kindle is backlit, so I can read in bed in any position, without trying to focus a light on my page.