The Debate: Print over Digital

I am  old-fashioned when it comes to reading paperback books, and recently I’ve seen more and more people doing the same. I remember a few years back, during my commute to work, I’d see countless passengers with their eyes glued to their kindles and other gadgets, reading. Although at the time, I felt ancient among them, I held fast to my belief that reading a paperback was/is still better then any electronic device, and for so many reasons:

One article details solid points by Naomi Baron,  about the topic of why paperback over anything else. Such as:

“The first is concentration. In a study I did with over 400 university students in five countries, 92 percent of participants said the reading platform on which they concentrate best is print. Students complained about distractions when reading onscreen. And as we know, if you’re distracted, your stress level can go up and attention span go down.”

“The second reason is that we probably remember more of what we read in print. I say “probably” because researchers are still figuring out how to move from laboratory-style comprehension tests to measuring memory that matters. Memory for abstract concepts or how the pieces of a story line fit together. Memory that connects our reading with other things we learn and with our everyday lives. Students tell us they remember more when reading in print. Not surprisingly, some report spending more time when reading print and reading more carefully than with digital texts.”

Naomi S. Baron is professor of linguistics at American University in Washington, DC. She is author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (Oxford University Press).

Here’s a few of my favorite excerpt from HuffPost:

Print books are physical reminders of your intellectual journeys.

There is a link between physical gestures and cognition: the things we do to print books seem to help us to understand and remember better.

Print books are better for your health. A Harvard Medical School study last year found that reading a light-emitting e-book before bed interferes with your ability to sleep, with your alertness the following morning, and with your overall health.

A bus full of people with print books is a snapshot of what is on a town or a city’s minds – as well as a collection of ideas for what you should read next. A bus full of people reading e-books is just a lot of people staring at devices.

And then in England – there is this bit of shifting – when it comes to paperback or digital:

The UK reached peak e-reader in 2014, when a quarter of UK book buyers owned one. Three years on that figure is back to only just over one-fifth as Britons have swapped their e-reading on to phones and tablets. Waterstones stopped selling the Kindle two years ago because they were “getting virtually no sales”.

And I know there is more…but you get the point. And even if you do, or feel that I am off my rocker, then please offer up your opinion right here. Otherwise have a pleasant day, and be sure to read – a paperback 🙂



  1. I own a ridiculous number of print books, and I will never stop buying them. They mean so much to me, and I love the way they look on my bookshelves, and I love the way they feel.

    I got a Kindle a few years ago for Christmas because I wanted a way to carry books on vacation without dragging around a giant bag of them. I promptly put it away and didn’t pick it up for about three years. I started reading on it again recently because you can get a lot of ARC books from NetGalley. That’s really the only reason I use my Kindle now (although the Kindle First books from Amazon are tempting.)


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