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A Paper Book Or The Kindle – What’s A Better Choice?

Kruti Beesam
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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Reading is the best way to spend leisure time. It makes time move faster while taking you into the lives of fictional characters to discover their interesting stories. It is a globally accepted fact that it is one of the most productive and educative ways of enjoyment available to people. With technology leaving an impression on everything, reading has undergone a noticeable change. This change has given rise to the question of whether reading on a Kindle is better or paper books are still the ideal way of enjoying a story. Let’s try to find an answer to this question.

Slow v/s Fast Reading

Did you ever realize that reading a paper book slows down your pace of reading? The effect is so subtle that it is difficult for anyone to realise unless we pay specific attention to it. The truth is you read slower when you hold a book, giving yourself the time to analyse what you have read. Experts say so too.  Maryanne Wolf, director of UCLA’s Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners and Social Justice—and the author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in the Digital World has confirmed that paper-book reading helps you pay attention to detail, cultivate empathy and develop a new perspective towards things. 

It is often found among digital readers that a slight distraction requires them to re-read a passage because they have forgotten where they had stopped. E-reading is known to make it difficult to remember the details of the plot. So, if you are reading a suspense thriller, a paper book is a better option for the best book-reading experience.

This was further illustrated in research by Anne Mangen of the University of Stavanger in Norway in her research in 2013. She surveyed a group of 72 students of 10th grade about their preference of reading on an electronic device or a physical book. After knowing their opinion, they were given a comprehension test. Half of them were asked to take the test physically and the rest took it virtually. The result revealed that those who took the test physically fared better than those who took it virtually.

Eyes Are Affected Either Way

Everything you do will have pros and cons. Book-reading too has its share. Too much of anything can be harmful – be it a paper book or an e-book. It is good to know how each method of reading will affect the person choosing it. American Optometric Association President Samuel Pierce, OD informs that reading a paper book forces you to adjust your vision to the font, leaving you no choice but to strain your eyes if you want to continue reading the book. In the long run, such strained reading can cause headaches and dry eyes. 

Talking about the ill effects of e-reading, he said it exposes our eyes to ‘blue light’ that can cause premature ageing of the eye muscles, insomnia and skin cancer in worst cases. Apart from being a strain on your eyes, a Kindle demands more effort from your brain too. A study conducted in Sweden in 2005 states that digital reading requires higher cognitive workload than a paper book.

 So what’s the solution? Moderation is the key. Avoid reading any of the versions for uninterrupted long hours within a day. Take appropriate breaks. Pierce suggests the 20-20-20 rule for voracious readers. The rule is to stare at something at a 20 feet distance from you for 20 minutes after 20 minutes of continuous reading. This way, the damage to your eyes can be minimised whether you are reading a Kindle or a paper book.

Easy Distraction

Another advantage of choosing paper books over Kindle reading is that you are less distracted when engaged in the former. This is true, not only because there are distractions of the percentage of battery, the reading time or the number of pages left in the chapter, but many other factors that cannot be ignored when comparing the two styles of reading. Research says e-readers are so busy scanning for the keywords they often miss the essence of the story they read. This is cited as the major reason why 67 percent of students reading digitally were able to multitask while 41 percent of the print readers were unable to do so in a survey conducted. 

What About The Environment?

This may be one of the few reasons why a Kindle or any other e-reader is better over a paper book. An e-book saves tons of paper, in turn saving a huge number of trees. If one tree produces 62.5 books then the availability of more than 200 e-books free of cost saves as many as 3,200,000 trees. The number is huge enough to make a significant difference to the environment. 

The Psychological Factor

It is a known fact that avid readers prefer the paper book over the Kindle because of the smell and texture that it brings with it. Why do readers long for the smell and texture of paper books? The answer lies in human psychology. Research has revealed that it is a sense of belonging that connects people to the things around them. A paper book gives its readers that sense of belonging, which connects them to the story and motivates a reading habit. Something a Kindle is not very successful in achieving.

What Does It Cost You? 

You end up spending a little more to read the same story, simply because Kindle is an easy-to-read device. Jonathan Stolper, senior vice president of Nielsen Book Americas directs our attention to a significant decrease in the sale of e-books because of being unreasonably expensive. A digital book costs 3-8 dollars more than the paper version. This rise in prices has been observed ever since publishers are given the right to set their own prices. Paper books seem healthier for your pocket too.

Be wise in choosing a better way to read!

Kruti Beesam
Kruti Beesam

Kruti enjoys blogging and listening to music. She actively tries to sensitise people towards disabilities and create awareness about the need for wheelchair friendly infrastructure. Being a foodie, Kruti looks forward to meeting new people and sharing a good meal with them.

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