Reading vs. E-Reading

Yesterday, while enjoying my weekly sojourn into the happy environs of Woman’s World Magazine, I came across a fun tid-bit on reading.  Before jumping into that, I’d like to make a little plug for Woman’s World.

Picture of Woman's World Magazine

Fun, uplifting weekly read.

My sister introduced me to the publication a few years ago, and while I don’t read it either for the weight loss miracles splashed on the front cover, or for the gooey, yummy, sure to create 3,000 calorie recipes consistently taking up seven to eight pages inside, I find myself smiling more and feeling positive after reading through.  Most articles are very short, and packed full of happy-talk.  There’s a new issue every week, and I appreciate that in this world of constant reduction in creative writing opportunities, Women’s World still produces a short mystery and romance story every week.  How cool is that?

Anyway, in an article entitled, Your Hands Hold the Key to Less Stress, Better Brainpower, and More Happiness, author Maria Lissandrello, had this to say about reading a book:

“In a recent study, people who read a book on an e-reader had much more difficulty remembering plot points than those who read the same story on paper.  Researchers say that simply turning the pages and watching “the pile of pages growing on the left and shrinking on the right” helps sharpen your focus as you eagerly anticipate getting to the end of the novel.

Boost the benefit . . . by reading a mystery!  Reading a mystery delivers big brain benefits, enhancing your memory as you recall clues while trying to solve what whodunit!”

This seems plausible to me.  I remember when email was still new.  I printed out several of my messages because my eyes seemed to “hurt” while trying to read the screen in those olden days.  I also seemed to miss a lot of the message in the effort.  Several of my friends at the time expressed feeling the same way.

Image of E-reader vs. Trad. Book Format

Which do you prefer?

Today, with better screen resolution, and a couple of decades’ experience, I don’t print so many missives and don’t complain about the headachy feel to reading on-screen. But I do notice more of a “dyslexic” feel to my reading.  It’s easier to skim over words and mis-read them or not see them at all.

I read both on an e-reader (iPad), and in the traditional form.  Have to admit there is something more substantial feeling about reading a book. I love the smell of the ink on the page, the sound of chapters turning over under my fingers, and the satisfaction of flipping back and forth and all around (especially in books with several sub-heads and graphics).  You just don’t get that full reading experience on a tablet.

YET, e-readers are terrific too.  If you’re reading in bed, you can turn out the lights and still read.  If the text starts to blur late at night, you can change the size and keep on going.  If you’re comfortable laying and reading on one side, you don’t need to roll over as you try to read the other side of the page.

Retention?  Hmm.  When I was young, I could “picture” words and facts from the reading I did, so that while I didn’t ever finish my professors’ reading recommendations, that which I did consume stayed in my head at test time.

Today, as I look things up more and more on-line, I find I have to read them three, four, or more times before something sticks. I thought I was just getting old (well, that I am), and my brain was fading (no blue-hair jokes please). Maybe this lack of sharpness has something to do with the idea that I’m not as physically involved in reading with electronic reads.  At least that will be my excuse for today.

What do you think?  Is e-reading hurting or supporting a good reading experience in your life?

Wishing you a great week.  I’m off to go find a nice, printed-on-paper book.


10 thoughts on “Reading vs. E-Reading

  1. Pingback: Today on my new blog: Reading vs. E-Reading | Liesa Malik

  2. This seems like the great debate of readers right now: e-book vs. print book. I LOVE my Kindle; it makes for easy transport and I don’t get any of those pesky hand cramps from holding open thick tomes. I’m able to read more books on my e-reader, but find I’m more purposeful about my reading when the book is in print form, which might relate to what you mentioned about the retention of details. Fun blog post, Liesa!

    • Hi Kate,
      Thanks for visiting and commenting! Sorry for the delay in response. Apparently, I’m no longer getting an email when people comment. I’ll need to check my set-up.

      I really like both kinds of reading too. And I like your idea of “purposeful reading.” Sometimes reading can be a zip through experience, and other times, I like to read while taking notes–even in fiction. Have a great day.

  3. I only read e-books if the book doesn’t exist in print (for example, some indie books) precisely because I don’t retain or engage as much with the text.

    You’ll find this interesting, I’m sure. My students (college level) print out their online reading material whenever possible as they find they retain the information better (at least the good students do, haha!). They’ve done studies about college students doing this so it’s not just my students. Interesting, right?

    Hope all is well and that Spring is starting to make her appearance.

    • Hi Letizia, Talk about adding substance to a claim! Thanks for sharing your observations. I wonder if people have done studies on long-term retention too. Like I said, I feel like my brain is a sieve when retaining reading any more, but I think I struggle more with those books I read on line than those I read on paper. I always thought it was because it’s easier to jog my memory with a flip through a book, but you can’t flip through an e-read. Maybe the issue really comes from the first read. Interesting!

  4. My husband won an e-reader in a contest. We were both enthusiastic about reading on it for several months. The device is now gathering dust. He does like that you can enlarge the font, making your own large-print version of any material. Woman’s World is a fun magazine, and one of the few paying markets for mystery and romance short stories!

    • Hi Catherine, Thanks for visiting. I have to admit, I also have one of the older Kindles. It’s gathering dust too. I use the iPad because I have other things I can do on the machine than just read. I wonder how people enjoy reading on their phones. You raise some good points.
      BTW: I hope to see your name in Woman’s World some time. Have a great day.

  5. I like e-reading because it is easier to obtain books and the prices are often lower. It is also easier to read on my Kindle than bringing a large book to read on the bus. I don’t buy many paper books now as I don’t have much space to store them. However, I always enjoy the experience of reading a paper book and drink my favourite drinks. I do this very often.

    • Hi Ray,
      I fully understand where you come from. When I used to commute in the London and Guildford areas, people were reading right, left, and center on the transport. With all the squished quarters, one small device would be much easier than a large one. Still, when you have the luxury of reading at home or in one of the multiple wonderful libraries in England, I think the book experience is much more fun. I hope you have a great day! Thanks for visiting.

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