Published on February 17th, 2015 | by Samantha Levine0
E-Reader vs. Paper
Did you know our brains process tablet reading differently than paper reading?!
E-readers, like Kindle or Nook, have been growing in popularity ever since their launch; along with tablets that have a plethora of apps for reading magazines, books, and articles. Despite the popularity of these, books are still preferred by many people for the experience for holding the physical object when they read and not allowing them to be distracted by notifications or switching reading material as easily. Plus who doesn’t love going through books at a library sale for 25 cent paperbacks? However, what screen reading lacks in experience, it makes up in convenience and space. Not having to pack up boxes worth of books or being in a doctor’s waiting room with 100 books in your hand to choose from is a wonderful thing.
But there’s more to it than that: our brains don’t read text the same when we are reading off of a screen or on a page. There are two types of reading, linear and non-linear; and in a study done by Ziming Liu, the type used more when reading screens is often the non-linear type of reading, which is surface reading, or skimming. Books, however, encourage linear reading, a deeper understanding of text read. And that could be for another reason, we move our eyes differently when reading a screen, skimming often in an “F” pattern, checking headlines and topic sentences to see if an article is worth our time before dedicating our time to reading it, given the amount of content available on the internet. This pattern, while useful when checking Huffington Post, translates to all online reading, including books.
It’s not just depth of reading, in a study done by Anne Mangen, she found that people who read the same content on a Kindle as others had read in a book, the Kindle readers not only were worse at remembering what exactly had happened in the story, but they also had less connection to the story. They felt less empathetic towards characters and felt less immersed in the story. So even if you are only reading for pleasure on your devices, you might be feeling less emotional resonance from your story.
So if you’re reading textbooks, or important documents it might be better to get those on paper, since you’ll pay more attention. And if you’re reading for pleasure, pay special attention to how stories are making you feel, and if it’s not having the impact that you thought it would or wanted it to, consider finding the hard copy version at your local library. This difference in reading can also explain why e-readers like the Kindle strive to make their screens look like real paper, like the Kindle Paperwhite, and why people are still opting for physical books instead of going totally paperless.
What do you think about the difference between reading on a screen or on paper? Do you prefer screen or physical reading? Let me know in the comments!