In numerous studies reported across multiple credible sources such as Scientific American, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Pew, just to name a few; print is still featured as the most desirable reading format for the majority of Americans today.
But perhaps one of the most surprising results from these studies is the finding that, even “digital natives” actually prefer to read print. In a story by The Washington Post, a student at American University goes on to say, “I like the feeling of it, I like holding it. It’s not going off. It’s not making sounds”. A recent pilot study conducted at the University of Washington also confirm this. The study found that remarkably, a quarter of students bought textbooks for their classes, despite being given a free e-book version!
People Perceive Information on Print to be More Important
Additionally in another study featured by Pew, 62% of citizens under the age of 30 subscribe to the belief that, “important information is NOT available on the internet” along with 53% of those aged 30 and older who also agree; revealing a lack of trust with digitally delivered content.
Retention and Recall Is Worse on Digital
In another study that garnered much attention, which was covered by The Guardian, researchers wanted to know if there was any difference in readers using digital alternatives like Kindle’s and iPad’s over print material. The results of these findings showed that readers who used technology like the Kindle, performed “significantly” worse than paperback readers when it came to recalling what they read. The researches go on to attribute touch, among other things, to be the main determinant for prints higher retention rates, “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print”…
People Get Distracted On Digital
Perhaps one of the most obvious downsides to digital… is the distractions. The Huffington Post featured another study which indicated that people were three times more likely to engage in multitasking while reading digital vs print.
People Skim Over Digital Material, But Actually Read On Print
One of the most compelling aspects that make print an even more compelling medium, is the fact that studies have shown that the majority of people, “skim” through digital content and don’t actually engage in reading word for word like they do with their printed counterpart!
Digital Is More Mentally Taxing Than Print
At first this might sound startling, but the Scientific American featured research that found just that! Some e-ink readers can be less taxing on the eyes, but the majority of devices that readers use will emit light which causes strain and extra processing effort. As it turns out, long term usage of these light emitting devices can affect up to 70% of people, giving them headaches, blurred vision, or worse!
In summary, with all the findings reported, print is considered to portray more important information, it provides better retention of the material through tactical engagement, is less distracting than digital, people actually read print word for word instead of just skimming through it, and it offers a less mentally taxing and eye straining alternative to digital.