I Can’t Read Real Books Anymore

Ron Blessing

So I have been re-reading Technoir in preparation to run it for the first time. The other day, when I was preparing my work backpack, I decided to leave the iPad behind and bring the physical Technoir book instead. This was to 1) make sure I wasn’t distracted by Ascension and 2) prove I didn’t need my binky (Veronica’s pet name for my iPad).

When it came time to read, I was having a hard time. I had to hold the book open and make sure I didn’t ruin the binding. The pages were way too shiny; I kept getting a glare off the fluorescent light. I had orientation issues with looking something up–no electronic bookmarks. It was so weird. I thought I was having a hard time with the material, but when I got home I was totally fine reading it on my iPad.

When I thought on it more, I realized nearly all my fiction “reading” is delivered via audiobook. I tend to have attention span problems when I try to open a standard paperback. When a book I’m recommended isn’t available in audio–or worse, if the narrator on the audiobook sucks–I just skip it.

Is this some sort of conditioning that’s crept up on me? Is anyone else having this problem?

I’m wondering if I should be trying to go back to paper–put down the iPad (my binky) and turn off my audiobooks. Can I even do that? Or should I just embrace the change as the wave of the future?

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7 Responses to I Can’t Read Real Books Anymore

  1. Dan says:

    I have “Idiopathic Hypersomnia”, so I have a little trouble sitting down to read a book without falling asleep. I don’t own a tablet or e-reader, but I find it somehow easier to stay awake reading off my PC. Maybe because it’s hader to get comfortable.

    • Kristian Serrano says:

      Research has shown that bright screens cause your brain to think it’s daylight and actually keeps you awake longer. It’s how and why we stay up so light in front of a computer screen at night even if we’re exhausted when we get home from work.

  2. Justin says:

    When it comes to game books I cannot get into it until I have a paper print copy in my hands. Now for reference and use during the game I need the e-copy.

    But if you should do what is most comfortable for you and won’t cause you distraction. Hmmm…maybe an iPad for every e-book you have? =)

  3. Kristian Serrano says:

    I find I’ve been preferring PDFs to real books lately simply because physical books are too unwieldy to carry around all the time. However, that only works for reading or referencing them away from the game table. When I’m at the game table, I need a physical book only because it’s frustrating to swap between different apps (Evernote, Google Docs, Adobe Reader/ezPDF Reader) to access different content (notes, custom campaign guide, rulebooks) on a single screen.

    As for books, I’ve been finding ebooks a better option as well simply because I can read a little bit at a time wherever and whenever I can on my phone or my tablet (the reader syncs between both) rather than having to tote a bulky copy of the book around everywhere I go.

    What makes me nervous though is what happens if/when these services such as Kindle and Audible disappear? With PDFs, I’m safe. Those are downloaded, stored locally, and backed up to several places (my network drive, Dropbox, Google Docs, etc.), but with Kindle or Audible, they can pull the content whenever they want.

    • Sean B says:

      I tried to run my last game from the tablet, but HP Touchpads don’t access the documents’ built-in bookmarks for some dumb reason (I thank my brother for buying it for me, but I’m really glad I didn’t waste any of my own money on it). I wound up reverting back to the physical book in about an hour.

      • Ron Blessing says:

        Sean, have you tried searching for a 3rd party app that can read bookmarks? That’s what’s required for iPad and Android tablets. On iPad I prefer Goodreader. On Android I prefer ezPDF Reader. I know Goodreader is iPad only, but ezPDF Reader is on iOS and Android. Unfortunately I know nothing about WebOS.

  4. Jim Ryan says:

    Ever since I got a netbook it seems as though I use it to read everything – even fiction! It’s very strange. I do still have use for physical game books, but that mostly happens at the table, and then only really if they’re the smaller format books (Explorer’s Editions, Essentials, etc.). Anything from a larger book I generally look up on the netbook. I think the only time I use larger books at the table comes when I’m GMing something – on those occasions I bring them to let the players reference them.

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