I bought an iPad several weeks ago and much to my surprise it is changing the way I read books.
When the iPad was first announced, the guys and I discussed the idea of whether or not the iPad would replace our love of regular books. “No way” we agreed, “I would still rather carry around the real thing, I’ve got to have the tangible pages in my hand”.
Well…. I apologize. I take it back.
I thoroughly enjoy reading on my iPad. And two things have happened since I bought it that have reeled me into my current stance.
The first was the constant dilemma when leaving my house each morning on whether or not I wanted to carry multiple objects around. I used to carry a bag with my computer, bible, and whatever book I was reading at the time. But now, I had all of those in one(granted I had those already in my computer, but getting out my laptop to read an ebook is not even comparable to holding a real book). I had to decide whether I wanted the convenience of toting only one object around, or multiple objects because I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of reading the “real” book.
The second was having to ask myself why I preferred the idea of carrying the book as opposed to reading it digitally. The truth of which I eventually narrowed down to pride. I had to admit to myself that I wanted to be “the guy who always reads books at starbucks” and I wanted people to see me doing it. It felt more authentic, and I liked that persona. I wanted people to ask me about the books(or at least I wanted them to WANT to ask me, though I don’t really care to talk back most of the time). I wanted to show that I don’t just read novels and self help guides, but that I’m more into philosophy and theologically deep stuff.
This also led me to deeper questions as to why I even like to own the physical books in the first place? I know it’s only been recently that we’ve even had other choices, but the reality is that most of the stuff I read is from pastors/preachers who are just reiterating their last sermon series(which are free online). And I knew that!
So questions started going through my head. Why do I buy so many books? Is it so I can build up shelves of volumes in my library and have something physical to remind me of the depths I’ve traveled in my studies? Is it so I can show off to other people who stop by that I follow Piper and Driscoll and Keller, therefore putting somewhat of an identity in them? Or is it because I feel like the ideas in the books are somehow incarnated into the paper and cool cover art that carry them? The truth is, YES. All of these scenarios play a part in my reasoning for purchasing books, and continually buying more.
But after coming to these conclusions I was also able to conclude more strongly that I genuinely have a desire to be imparted knowledge, information and wisdom from the authors I read. I need to be fed by these men and women and have the chance to learn from their experiences. I believe God has ordained languages as his ultimate method of imparting truth, and the written word is the most powerful technology to date for doing so. So if this is the case, then I shouldn’t really care about the fact that I’m reading it electronically behind a screen that no one can see, and that I won’t have a tangible element to stack on the shelf to admire later. I should seek satisfaction in the information alone, and not in the appearance of being someone who seeks that information(hmm… You think that philosophy could be applied in other areas of life?).
I seriously doubt that physical books will be going away anytime soon, because we need them in our lives. But it’s always important to check our motives in every situation on why we do what we do. I am enjoying the new experience of reading on my iPad and will probably use it as my primary “book” for the time being. But it will never replace my desire to be constantly filled with more of Jesus. So no matter what the medium I grow from, or what my appearance is in others’ eyes, I want to always be drawn to the hard, raw truth of the gospel. And not to the self-glorification of religious pride.
*note- it might be easy to say that switching from a book to an iPad could be seen as drawing more attention to myself when out in public, and would therefore seem like a prideful move. But I assure you the ability to take pride in owning this new “toy” will soon fade. I like being an early adopter to these new technologies out of a desire for progress. The fact is, the sooner everyone gets one, the less “cool” they will be and we can continue advancing as a society(case in point: laptops, cell phones, iPods). So I try my best when I have it out not to appear as if I’m flashing it around, but instead to treat it as a normal, every day device.