Pop Quiz: E-Readers vs Paper Books
In yesterday’s Required Readings Librarienne posted a link to a story from The Guardian which reported on a study involving reading comprehension on e-readers compared to printed “pocket” books. The study which is yet to be published claims that there is a decrease in a person’s ability to reconstruct the plot of the story by putting 14 events in correct order. The authors hypothesize that the “tactile sense of progress” of pages moving allows the reader to better remember the order of the story. I am an avid e-book reader and this struck me as curious. I read my kindle and think I remember the stories just fine.
With the paper not yet published I cannot dissect it and see if there are some red flags, but it is a topic that I find interesting. There are so many factors that go into comparing e-book readers to printed books, not the least of which is the learning curve about the device itself. For example if you are unfamiliar with a kindle you might not know that you can flip backward or forward through the book without losing your place. So if you forget who Mr. Smith was you can flip back through the story just like you would through a paperback, and you don’t even need to do that if you are reading a kindle and it is X-ray enabled. You can just open that function, find the character and read a series of sentences in which that name appears. You can then if you want select a sentence and read the entire page. You can make notes and highlights and then read them in an organized list rather than as a scattering of post-its. It would be interesting to compare the reading comprehension of people who commonly read e-books to people who commonly read paper books to see if a familiarity with the device makes a difference.
I think from the paragraph above you can clearly see my bias and I haven’t even mentioned the accessibility features of many e-books. The only real negative that I currently see, and this is only with certain books, is that they are not properly formatted as an e-book and often times images and figures are out of whack.
So today’s question is this: In your experience are paper books superior to e-books? Have you seen a difference in reading comprehension between e-books and paper books?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).