When you love to read, finding time to read your books and places to store them are familiar problems. The time-worn cliche of book lovers with groaning, double-stacked bookshelves exists for a reason. People who love books usually end up with a significant collection of them.
The invention of the eReader seemed like the perfect solution. A device just a little larger than your standard paperback could hold hundreds, even thousands of books.
Book lovers could lighten the load on their shelves. People who had always wanted to read more had easy access to books that didn’t really take up any space.
The Benefits of eReaders
eReaders have lived up to their promise in some ways. You can definitely store a large number of books on them. Most eReaders have a way to buy those books from an online merchant such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Another benefit of eReaders is their portability. In some ways, they are more portable than a paperback. They have no pages to tear out when being carried in a backpack or purse. They are often lighter than a paper book, and of course, they hold many books in the space used by one paper book.
They also have adjustable text sizes and lighting options that are useful for people with vision issues. Instead of having to pay extra for a large print edition, if one even exists, readers can adjust the font size to one that is comfortable for their eyes.
Not Just a Text Display
As more eReaders have become available, manufacturers have looked for ways to make their products more appealing.
The original Kindle, for example, was fairly basic in terms of what you could do with it. It was a small, rectangular device that would show you text. You could adjust the text, add and delete books, and carry your book collection around without breaking your back.
You couldn’t watch videos, surf the Internet, or check your email. You didn’t play games on it. You definitely didn’t hand it to your kid to let them use a learning app to practice math or their ABC’s. It was just a reading device.
As the eReader market filled with more options, so did eReaders’ operating systems. Tablets became a popular alternative thanks to their “all-in-one” approach. You could do almost anything on them that you could do on a traditional computer, including read books, browse Facebook, order a pizza and some went as far as letting you play casino games on them.
Again, this seemed like the perfect solution. For about the same amount of space as a paperback, you had a computer that would keep you connected to all your friends, social media, the web, your games, work email, your shopping list, your appointment calendar and any other aspect of your life that you can think of.
In fact, it might be argued that these devices allowed you to be a little too connected.
The Perils of Distraction
The modern world is amazing in many ways, but it is not quiet. Email, phone calls, texts, instant messaging, Facebook status updates, Tweets, Instagram posts, and more constantly poke at us, trying to get our attention like bored children.
These distractions come at a cost. We take longer to finish tasks when we’re distracted. Even a minute to glance at a text is a minute added to the total time we’re working. Then there’s time to refocus on the task. We have to remember what we were doing and get back into the flow of work.
Recent research has shown that distractions do more than add to the total time needed to do a job. When you’re distracted while doing a task, the final result tends to be of lower quality than the result when you’re doing a similar task uninterrupted.
Too Many Bells and Whistles Make It Hard To Read
Imagine for a moment that you’re trying to read a book. A child pops up beside you to tell you a joke. You laugh and start reading again. Your friend pokes her head in to show you her new jacket. You compliment it and start reading again. Your boss tells you he needs some specific information by tomorrow morning. You agree to get it done and – have no idea what you were reading.
Distractions are particularly a problem when reading because it’s an activity that requires focus. If you’re reading for information, you have to hold the information in your working memory long enough to grasp the entire picture of what the text is telling you. If you’re reading a story, you want to stay immersed in the events of the plot.
When you’re distracted, you lose the thread of information or story. Sometimes important facts get dropped from your working memory before you’re able to store them. Regardless of whether you’re reading to learn something or for pleasure, distractions keep you from having as positive an outcome as you would have had without interruptions.
This is why many people are moving away from multi-function tablets and eReaders that “do it all.” The constant distractions and temptations make it too difficult to focus on their reading. It’s not just that studying or trying to stay informed about important topics becomes more difficult. For many people, the loss of the ability to relax and lose themselves in a story for a time isn’t worth the chance to check Facebook one more time mid-chapter.
When You Just Want to Read
Luckily, there is a happy medium for people who love the convenience of eReaders but don’t want the bells and whistles of a fancy tablet. Some eReaders, such as the SuperNote A5, have eliminated all the unnecessary distractions to provide an enjoyable, distraction-free reading experience.
If you’re in the market for an eReader, consider whether you need all the distractions that come with “all-in-one” solutions. If your main goal is to read, focus on finding an eReader that lets you do it uninterrupted.
Markus lives in San Francisco, California and is the video game and audio expert on Good e-Reader! He has a huge interest in new e-readers and tablets, and gaming.