In my online travels recently, I came across several stories talking about the merit of e-readers, and specifically reading comprehension when using them. The first story I came across (via Lifehacker) was on Time and titled, Do E-Books Make It Harder to Remember What You Just Read?Â I thought a little about the claim and how the author supports it, but I cynically thought that Time has something to gain since they do produce print media primarily. Then I followed the link talking about Larry Page, co-founder of Google, thinking the same thing.
That story comes from a blogger and author named Bob Sutton, titledÂ Larry Page, My Wife’s Lament, and Reading on Books vs. Screens. It echos somewhat what Time says (or Time echos it I guess), but it includes a personal story, and cites some more research. The author also says that he will often buy two copies of the book- a digital one and a physical one.
I can’t say I’ve noticed worse reading comprehension while using the Kindle; however, when I buy textbooks or reference books I do opt for the physical book. I prefer to have a copy of Â those kinds of books next to me when needed. The research Sutton presents also covers reading speed, not comprehension, as Sutton himself points out. I’d be very interested to see more on this topic, as there can be any number of reasons for this. Digital devices like the iPad or a computer can be more distracting. Or perhaps, in the case of the Kindle, it could be due to smaller screen sizes.
What I do know for sure is that print books should come with a digital copy; in my opinion this is a no brainer. I think Â this would really help the sales of print books and it would be much moreÂ convenientÂ for the user. They do it with Bluray discs, and you have the ability to digitize CDs. Why should it be any difference, in today’s society, for books?
What do you think? Have you Â notices a a degradation in readingÂ comprehensionÂ while using e-readers? What about reading online?