Thursday, October 23, 2014

(Not-Monday) Musings: e-readers vs. paper books

I know it's not Monday, but not enough people read/care about my personal memes to make a stink about me writing this on a Thursday. Also, I read a cool article that I MUST share with you all!

I wrote a previous Monday Musing about audio books (summary: I'm not a fan of fiction on audio). However, I never really spent too much time worrying about whether to read my fiction on paper or on an e-reader.

To be honest, I buy most books on my e-reader now because I live in the city and it's easier to carry around my tablet/phone to read than a million books. Also, I read about four books at a time so I like to have them all handy because I'll never know which one I'm in the mood to read.

Also, at the end of reading a really good book on my e-reader I'll sometimes even buy it in hard copy so I can add it to my ever growing library (and my dream is to one day have a library in my home).

However, studies have now been done on whether we should read from an e-reader or a hard copy paper book. 

And the winner is: Paper Books!

The study was done by Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger. Apparently e-readers make us less able to absorb information and readers can't remember the order of events in their stories.

According to Mangen, studies suggest that using screen devices (like iPads, kindles, nooks) might impact readers' cognitive abilities and it affects the emotional aspect of reading. What does all this mean you ask. It means that e-readers are turning us into emotionless zombie readers! (noooo) J/K it's not that serious, but it could mean that we aren't connecting to our stories in an emotional way and we're not processing story details well since we're reading it on e-readers.

Why is this happening? Apparently we need to be able to feel the pages and physically turn them, having the option to flip back and forth, fold over pages (blasphemy!), and have a tactile experience of feeling the pages during reading helps steep us in the experience of reading.

I personally have always said that the smell of books is a huge part of reading, so I can see what this study is getting at. I just didn't know that the feel of books could make me empathize with the characters more.

What do you guys think? How do you read your books? Do you think e-readers are making readers lose out on the experience of reading?


  1. I love my Kindle. I hate to think that I could be missing out because I prefer it over paper books. It's just so much more convenient. I'm all the time losing my place in paper books for a multitude of reasons. It's so much easier just to tap on the screen to mark my place. Plus the e-readers are so light compared to most books, it's just more comfortable. I do still get books from the library sometimes but I haven't noticed feeling any differently about them than my digital books as far as feeling more involved or anything like that. That's an interesting study. I'm still not giving up my Kindle though! Great discussion topic!

    1. I am not giving up my Kindle either. I think this is just "in general" but maybe now that we know it's a trend we can pay more attention when we read on e-readers. Also, I think that if you're an avid reader you'll digest books differently as well.

  2. I think the part that really made sense to me was the tactile aspect of books. I'm the type of reader who really likes to flip back and forth while reading, as well as put little tabs on parts of the book I want to remember for later. You can do that in a Kindle, but it's less likely you'll actually go back and look at your notes b/c you can't physically see it.

    I do still love my Kindle. I mostly read romance and NA books on it, ahaha. Quick, fast-paced books that usually have awful covers anyway.

    I'm also big on the aesthetic quality of books, so a great cover (and overall production of a book) goes a long way with me. You don't get that in a Kindle, which why I do like having the hard copy version of books. And you can't sign a Kindle either, at book signings.

    So, there are pros and cons for both. If anything, I'm glad that "paperback" books win only b/c I never want them to go away, you know? I'm fine with the Kindle but not at the expense of the end of all hard copy books, which they say is in our future (hopefully not!)

    Great discussion, Cuz! I love these types of posts!

    1. I didn't even think about the possibility that paper books can go away. Good news is that apparently e-reader book sales only account for like 20% of book sales, so paper books are safe. And if this study means anything, we can rest assured that paper books are the way to go for the future!

      Haha, can you imagine if I author signings with my kindle? then i'd just carry around a tablet with a million autographs on it.