Paper or Pixels?


If you’re buying books to try Blissfully Ignorantly then it’s definitely easier to do this with an e-reader. You can make the purchase without the unfettered blurb, flick throughs, reviews and possibly comments f rom other people around you that you might be tempted by when getting a paper book.

I must confess that I have an e-reader and couldn’t be without it – which surprises me. I thought I’d be a purist – I still love bookshops and the feel of a book, weighing how big a book is in my hand often would give me a feel as to whether I’d want to read it (is that allowed in Blissfully Ignorant Reading? I think that’s legitimate otherwise you wont be able to pick them up!) I find paper books far more tempting than e-books, but I buy more e-books. I’ve even been known to buy the e-book of a book that has been lent to me.

I have a very good reason and I’m not sure how much this has influenced my liking of the e-reader. I am visually impaired ( I used to be partially sighted until a man in Vision Express told me I wasn’t allowed to call myself that as it wasn’t politically correct – I still prefer partially sighted: more drama and sounds like a real issue as visually impaired sound a bit like “restricted view” on theatre tickets). So with an e-reader I can change font, bump up the size and have white on black! These combined make reading a much more relaxing pleasure but mean that reading on the bus is a public affair (everyone can read what I’m reading!) Which is fine most of the time, but even the most uncontroversial books have sex in them! I don’t want everyone on the bus to think I’m a pervert. I was discussing this with a friend on the bus and then settled down to read, on the very next page appeared the word c**t ( I think it was Atonement – Ian McEwan – a worthy book so you won’t judge me too harshly), so I quickly flashed my page at him and he was shocked. So now I sit at the back of the bus!

E-book sales are constantly rising but I would say the vast majority of readers I talk to are unimpressed and not tempted to either get an e-reader or to move away from paper altogether. So I think paper is safe for a while. What worries me the most is what will happen to bookshops. I’m sorry to say that I think it inevitable that we will lose our beloved bookshops in their current form some time soon.


As an experiment I wrote this post by hand on paper first! My hand hurts now. I was telling my dyslexic son that it is ironic that you write by hand all though school and in your exams. Then you might as well throw your pencil-case away! In work who hand writes any amount these days? I take notes in meetings – but am starting to feel that I should have a tablet to help me sort and organise my notes, but any serious writing, like a report, are done electronically.

It’s strange writing this by hand. I know I’ll restructure and edit it when I transfer it to the blog but Im surprised how complete this paper version feels. Am I using a different writing technique; where I am more consciously structuring and editing? Perhaps I’m not re-reading as I go along as I do on the PC? This is feeling more like a final draft than a first draft (and in fact as I type it in I’m not changing much at all but my goodness my touchtyping has gone out the window!)

If you are a writer I bet you write on a laptop or PC. You should try hand writing for a while. It’s very different. I thought I’d find it really difficult, but actually it’s okay. It’s also interesting to see a quantity of my handwriting. The last time I wrote anything this long was an account of my eldest’s birth! I’m quite pleased with the quality of my handwriting, I thought it would be really irregular but it’s survived well through lack of use and if anything seems to have improved.

So what do you think? Paper or pixels? For me, for reading it’s definitely pixels, writing, well I’ll be back on the PC for the next post, so I that must be pixels too. It’s easy to romanticise paper, but the electronic stuff is there to meet a need. Is it meeting yours?



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