I’ll admit that I’m a bibliophile. I love books: buying them new, shopping for them in second-hand stores. Holding them, reading them, annotating them. Savouring their smell. Thumbing through them, re-reading them, and re-discovering old delights. Borrowing them from other people. Falling asleep with them on my face. Admiring them on my bookshelves.
And…I’ll admit that I’ve never really warmed to e-books or e-book readers. But maybe that’s just because I’m old-fashioned, or stubborn, or both…right? (As for the argument that I could travel with a 1,000 e-books but not 1,000 paperbacks: show me one person who actually manages to read 1,000 books on holiday!)
Anyway, I felt somewhat vindicated in my reluctance to embrace e-books when I read a recent study suggesting that there may be cognitive drawbacks to reading something on an e-reader compared to in print. In particular, less information seems to be absorbed, and reading comprehension is consequently poorer. Aha!
To be fair, this is only one study - and the researchers don’t yet know how to explain their findings. But as e-books become more and more popular, it’s definitely worth understanding what impact (if any) they have on our reading experiences.
The debate between paper books and e-readers has been vicious since the first Kindle came out in 2007. Most arguments have been about the sentimental versus the practical, between people who prefer how paper pages feel in their hands and people who argue for the practicality of e-readers. But now science has weighed in, and the studies are on the side of paper books.