The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

The Benefits of Physical Books Over Digital

It’s always good to know that your hunch and strong personal preference is backed up by good evidence!

HT: The Case for Paper: Books vs. E-Readers

“Research suggests that comprehension is six to eight times better with physical books than e-readers (Altamura, L., Vargas, C., & Salmerón, L., 2023). Though many people find they can read faster on a device, the distractions, like social media scrolling, advertisements, and email notifications, often hinder memory retention. Physical books provide an immersive experience, resulting in readers who absorb and recall the content more effectively.

“Holding the weight of a book in your hand, turning the pages, and even highlighting your favorite passages are all experienced in the body. In fact, according to researchers, turning pages as we read creates an “index” in the brain, mapping what we read visually to a particular page, (Rothkopf, Ernst Z.,1971). This is part of what allows the brain to retain the information better when read from a physical book.

“From the way you position your body when holding a book, to the way your head and eyes adjust to scan the pages as they turn, there are distinct differences in the way our bodies experience reading a good old-fashioned book. “Print books and the substrate of paper lend an obvious physicality to individual texts, while e-books are not tangible volumes and are differently touched, held, carried and navigated,” wrote Mangen, A., and van der Weel, A. in “The evolution of reading in the age of digitisation: an integrative framework for reading research,” (2016, p. 116–124). “The haptic feedback of a touch screen is different from a paper book, and the implications of such interactions warrant empirical investigations. Studies in experimental psychology and neuroscience show that object manipulation provides spatial information which is crucial for building coherent mental representations of the manipulated object.”

“Perhaps what is most salient is the undeniably strong preference most people have for reading printed books. In one study, 92 percent of students reportedly preferred print books over e-books (Baron, N. S., 2015). There’s something special about holding a book in your hand, admiring the cover art, even appreciating the way your bookmark visually advances with time spent turning the pages.

References:

Altamura, L., Vargas, C., & Salmerón, L. (2023). Do New Forms of Reading Pay Off? A Meta-Analysis on the Relationship Between Leisure Digital Reading Habits and Text Comprehension. Review of Educational Research, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543231216463

Baron, N. S. (2015). Words onscreen: The fate of reading in a digital world. Oxford University Press.

Mangen, A., and van der Weel, A. (2016) The evolution of reading in the age of digitisation: an integrative framework for reading research. Literacy, 50: 116–124. doi: 10.1111/lit.12086.

Rothkopf, Ernst Z. (1971) Incidental memory for location of information in text. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. Volume 10, Issue 6: Pages 608-613. ISSN 0022-5371, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(71)80066-X.

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