Ebooks, eBibles, oh my . . .

I love ebooks. On my Android phone, or my Nook, laptop and even on my aging desktop PC, they’ve become my medium of choice for reading and studying.

My once rather large collection of bound, paper volumes in years’ past could  fill a couple walls, but now they have been reduced to a few dozen in one bookcase. Even these are more kept for sentimental value than anything else. I either buy a digital edition, or check one out from the library over the Internet.

Which makes it weird, indeed, that when it comes to reading scriptures — whether my own Christian ones, or those of Islam, Buddhism, the Hindus or Mormons — I still find myself turning paper pages and using dry-tip markers to highlight.

Oh, I have multiple versions of these holy books on all those previously mentioned digital devices. They are amazing. Researching is a snap with the likes of Tecarta’s suite on my Droid X or Nook, or eSword software on my PC. But when it comes to personal devotional time, it seems I need to hold something in my hands with paper, ink, wrinkled pages and binding for it all to feel, well, “spiritual.”

I can even have my ereaders read out loud to me, if I want to rest the eyeballs.

Maybe it’s a subconscious desire to continue in form the habits of my grandfathers and great-grandfathers, from whom I inherited  worn, personal Bibles. There’s the one, rugged palm-sized edition my great-grandfather, the sea captain, once used on his sailing ships in the late 1800s, its once-pliant calfskin now peeling and dry, stained by saltwater; then there’s one my grandfather the dentist once took to Methodist services, still with bookmarks of pressed flowers inside.

Bible study, 'old school'

And one of my most-treasured childhood images is of my father, the preacher, quietly leafing through his big,  black leather-bound Bible, its once-gilded pages worn by decades of being thumbed, as he occasionally jotted down notes for that next sermon. Some day, that old book will be mine, too.

But it’s more than sentiment. Somehow, it just feels right. There’s something about reading the wisdom and encouragement within the covers of a “real” Bible, knowing it is personally yours and unique with your dog-eared pages and scribbled notes in the margins . . . and then closing the Book carefully, as if punctuating the inspiration you just received.

It may be, though, that in another generation — perhaps in a matter of a few years — print Bibles, and certainly print books in general, will simply become rare, expensive oddities. That is no different a technological shift, I suppose, than the printed word moving from quills and ink on animal skins to paper tomes produced in volume on printing presses.

And still . . . I can’t help feeling when that happens, we will all be, somehow, poorer in the scripture reading experience.

Oh, I know, it makes no sense. And ebooks have and ereaders account for 90 percent of my book reading experience.

Logically, ebooks win, hands down. Earlier this year, Amazon announced that ebooks were, for the first time, out-selling paperbacks. It’s inevitable, barring the collapse of civilization, that digital reading has not only arrived — it will dominate.

What do you think? Leave a comment!


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