Harry Potter Hardcover versus Kindle Paperwhite
I remember when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was on break from school, and my Grandma, who attempted to read it herself, asked if I wanted to give it a read. She felt the number of characters was a bit too much, and trying to keep up with them all was frustrating.
At this time, I started to appreciate books and reading. The first book in the Harry Potter series was released in 1998 in the US, so I was around ten years old. I don’t remember when I got handed the book from my Grandma, but it had to be between 5th and 7th grade, which would mean I was 10 and 12 years old.
I didn’t realize how obsessed I would get into Harry Potter and the wizarding world once my Grandma handed me that first book. I had an incentive to read Harry Potter because my school gave extra credit to those who have read over 200 pages during our break. This incentive led me into reading the series, but the stories kept me there, and I have been a massive fan to this day.
My wife and I like to watch all the Harry Potter movies during Christmas time. Sometime in December, we will start the first movie, and before Christmas, we will get through all eight movies. This year though, the film wasn’t enough; I needed more story, more depth, more details.
So I decided to reread all the books, and right now, I am currently on book five: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Funny how it takes me a month to get through a 300-page self-improvement book or a book on stoicism, but in a matter of 2 months, I can read four books that have on average 400 to 500 pages.
There is a pretty good argument that a novel is something you don’t have to absorb every line of, you are getting through a story, so it is not as imperative to make sure you follow every scene as if it is that substantial to the entire plot. When reading something about being more present and aware, the concepts build on one another, so you should read slower and take it all in.
Regardless, rereading Harry Potter has been an enjoyable experience. So much of the characters and details are more profound in the books. The movies are surprisingly good compared to the books. Still, I love how some things aren’t as emphasized in the books but are in the film — the difference in trying to visualize importance instead of reading the inside of the characters’ thoughts.
If you have not read Harry Potter and you like fantasy, but in a subtle and wholesome way, you will not be disappointed. But this post isn’t just about how great Harry Potter is. I have been thinking about the difference between reading Harry Potter versus when I read it as a kid was the medium.
I started out reading the paperback version of books 1 through 3, but by the 4th book, I had the hardcover and read the rest of the series that way. It was interesting how my shift of seeing such a vast book make me excited instead of it being a burden. The fact that I had such an abundance of a story to read was so exciting when I was into the series.
Now, I am reading all of the books on my Kindle. Instead of feeling the massive book on my lap and flipping the pages, with the distinct smell that I still recognize to this day, I have text on a 6-inch e-ink display with a percentage on the bottom right telling me how many pages I have left. The satisfaction of seeing the percentage grow is not as exciting as seeing the book’s pages pile up from right to left.
The argument of using physical books over Kindle books is something that is still debated and discussed. I have fallen on the side that feels like the digital version of books are superior, but it is funny that the last time I read all of these books was when I had physical copies, so the comparison is hard not to mention.
The benefit of reading these books on a Kindle, though, is that I can read the books anywhere — or all night. I feel I have read these books so fast because the ability to read them is much more versatile. Reading at my desk during lunch, on the couch during the weekends, in bed every night (and sometimes until really late into the night since it has a backlight), in the backyard, the parking lot of my wife’s doctor’s office, or literally anywhere else.
My most significant discovery in reading these books and something I was concerned about was whether the stories would feel the same. I was listening to an episode of Reconcile Differences — I am listening to their entire catalog, so this is an early episode from 2016 — where they talked about how listening to certain music or watching a particular movie no longer has the same effect on when it did when they first listened or watched it.
Due to our situations and environments being different, a song may remind you of a specific time, but it isn’t easy to get the same feelings you had when you listened to it the first time or when it had some impact. I feel this way about a lot of music and find it weird when I rewatch a movie from my childhood, and the feelings I get from it are so different from when I remember.
This fear was present when I started rereading Harry Potter and was worried that using an entirely different medium would also not allow me to get into it and love the story as much as I did when I read them initially. Surprisingly, this did not affect me at all. The love, excitement, and absorption of these stories are just as immense.
My favorite book of the series is book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was the first one in the series that was substantially longer, and they just got longer from there. The length is definitely due to the plot and the number of things going on. It also introduced more details about the school Harry attended and allowed for more complex character developments.
It was at this point, after starting my journey through the Harry Potter series, that I felt like I wanted to be a wizard, and consuming more and more of this world was an addiction. Rereading this book on the Kindle brought back most of those same feelings; I am no longer 13, so obviously, my worldview is a bit different, but the fascination of this series still exists.
So had technology killed or ruined a series that I cherish so much from my childhood? Not at all. We also have all the Audiobooks of the Harry Potter series and highly recommend listening to Tim Dale read the books; his ability to do character voices only makes listening to a lot of fun.
The great thing about reading Harry Potter on my Kindle is reading them in bed. I know I mentioned this ability already, but lately, I have been doing it closer to my wife’s belly to get our little boy a head start into the series. This has the added benefit of hearing and getting familiar with my voice, but due plan on reading these books to my kids in the future.
So the hesitance I have had over the years of buying and reading a book I cherish digitally over physically was unwarranted. It makes me happy to know that the stories still hold so strong that I get sucked in, no matter how I get there.