I’m a self admitted geek. I love tech stuff. My dad was an electrical engineer and our basement was filled with all kinds of gadgets. When I was a kid, I spent hours playing with his tools and gadgets. And as we entered the computer age, I became one of the first among my friends to embrace that technology. I was an early smart phone adopter, and I now use a tablet computer when I preach, do my devotions and read God’s Word. Recently, however, I dusted off my old NIV and began to read it in my devotions instead of relying solely on an electronic version of the Bible. Here are five reasons I’m going to begin reading more from my paper Bible.
1. It is now as novel to my brain as reading from a tablet computer was a few years ago. And the brain loves novelty. Novelty helps us pay better attention and enhances learning. Now, as I hold my dogeared Bible, my attention to what I read has increased.
2. Research now shows a decrease in what scientists call deep reading because our Kindle brain differs from our paper brain. It’s called the biliterate brain. Our brain uses different circuits depending on whether we are reading from paper or plasma. Plasma reading encourages more non-linear reading (skimming and browsing when our eyes dart around), whereas paper reading encourages more linear reading, deeper reading. I’ve found that paper reading forces me to read a bit slower. I realize how I’ve missed slower and deeper Bible reading.
3. More tactile involvement with paper reading has also increased my attention. The feel of leather and the texture of the thin paper when I turn a page to look up a Scripture has enhanced my engagement with God’s Word. The more senses we use, the more engaged we become.
4. When I read on my Kindle, it’s silent. However, the sound from the shuffling pages of my paper Bible brings back a pleasant familiarity from former days. The ‘whoosh’ feels warm and inviting as it was a part of my life for decades before electronic Bibles.
5. In my paper Bible, I had often scribbled notes and insights in the margins that I had learned from others or from my own study. As I read my paper Bible now, I also read these notes. They remind of God’s past faithfulness when His Spirit taught me then.
I’m not selling my iPad on Craig’s list (or Kijiji here in Canada). I still enjoy the reading plans I quickly access online. And I want to easily compare different versions that my Bible program offers with side-by-side comparisons. But incorporating my paper Bible into my reading has brought me a new and fresh experience in God’s Word.
What are your thoughts and experiences about reading a paper Bible versus an electronic one?