Digital adoption is vital to retain the reading habit – Ruwandi Perera

“Reading maketh a full man,” said Sir Francis Bacon. Yet, in a world where words are becoming shorter, emojis are replacing text and videos are turning into everyone’s favourite form of infotainment, we may not have any ‘full’ men or women soon.

At one time, bibliophiles would have been considered to be one step closer to being ‘full.’ However, with hardly any books selling hard copies these days, and a staggering number of people turning away from the habit of reading due to digital media and devices, we need to become ‘lectiophiles’ – lovers of reading itself, regardless of form.

Many argue that digital transformation, social media, the rise of AI and other technological advancements have turned people away from reading. This may or may not be true.

Digital technology has always been malleable enough to adapt to what exists.

For instance, while digital media has been blamed for turning people into couch potatoes, digital technology has been a game changer when it comes to turning ordinary people into fitness junkies. Step counts, activity tracking, heart rate monitors, and even simple reminders to stand up and walk about are simple (and inexpensive) ways to help us keep fit.

The same can be said for reading.

Even as digital technology provides many hours of video streaming that’s easily accessible at your fingertips, it can also offer a range of e-books at a far lower cost with more accessibility from your armchair.

Digital reading refers to any form of online reading – be it e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines, PDFs, blogs or any written content in soft format. And you need not necessarily invest in a Kindle or e-reader tablet to experience its joys.

Almost any smartphone can be transformed into an e-reader with a simple app such as Apple iBooks or Google Play Books. And once you pick a book – free or purchased – the algorithm will keep suggesting titles in line with your preference.

It goes without saying that the advantages are numerous. You can enjoy access to libraries of books, and adjust font styles and sizes, contrasts, colours, glare percentages and even the sound of a page flip!

What’s more, you’ll be able to set reading goals and monitor your progress on a timely basis. You can make notes, keep bookmarks (without having to dog-ear it) and even make quick references to a built-in dictionary if you don’t know the meaning of a word.

In addition, you can join online book clubs through your reading app, and swap books and connect with other readers.

Language is not a barrier when it comes to e-books, thanks to easy translation options; and neither is vision impairment. Audiobooks are a form of downloadable e-books that come with the added benefits of not having to hold a device, and being able to listen to celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Kate Winslet narrate your favourite stories.

This year, we’ve been hearing even more good news in the e-reading department starting with Sol, which is a reading technology company that’s working on a simple innovation called the Sol Reader.

Imagine a pair of glasses that comes with a remote that you can use to turn the pages and a charger that can power its battery to last for some 25 hours.

The company promises users the experience of being immersed in a good book, sans all the interferences that take our attention away. These glasses have only one purpose – and that’s to allow the reader to see the book in front of him or her while blocking out all distractions.

Although it’s not made to be used solely for reading, which might be far down its list of functions, Apple Vision Pro will also mark a new era in reading when it hits the market next year.

Fuelled by the power of augmented and virtual reality, Apple’s first XR headset is an ultra-high-resolution display system that’s set to revolutionise how we watch, read, experience and interact with content. Imagine reading a book that comes to life!

While one wouldn’t want to get too much ahead of oneself, it’s certainly okay to dream.

Digital reading is here to stay; it can turn you into a better, faster and more effective reader. So it’s high time to step on the train… if you haven’t already.

Of course, you’ll have to sacrifice that wonderful fragrance of subtle vanilla as you flip through the pages and the joys of falling asleep with a book on your face but there’s more to enjoy once you begin digital reading!

Reading has evolved from paper to pixels. Have you?