I learned how to read the summer I turned five (thanks to my grandmother, a former first grade teacher) which coincided with my mother getting rid of the television. This led to my becoming an avid reader and devourer of books, something that is still a big part of my life today.
As the e-reader become a more widely used device, I was still clinging to my beloved traditional books because I loved going into the book store and seeing the book covers and smelling the fresh ink. Then the last local bookstore closed, and I finally broke down and asked for an e-reader for Christmas in 2011.
Since then, I’ve become devoted to my electronic books. I’ve read 148 books on the device since I got it, and I love being able to download a new book when I finish what I’m reading without having that “no new book to read” panic.
I’m not the only one, apparently. For the first time in many years, publishers actually saw an increase of 6% in their net revenue – thanks in no small part to the e-reader and e-book phenomenon, according to The Next Web.
But the question remains: is this a good thing? A new study suggests that e-readers actually damage reading comprehension, according to Salon.
An emerging collection of studies emphasizes that in addition to screens possibly taxing people’s attention more than paper, people do not always bring as much mental effort to screens in the first place. Subconsciously, many people may think of reading on a computer or tablet as a less serious affair than reading on paper. Based on a detailed 2005 survey of 113 people in northern California, Ziming Liu of San Jose State University concluded that people reading on screens take a lot of shortcuts — they spend more time browsing, scanning and hunting for keywords compared with people reading on paper, and are more likely to read a document once, and only once.
I haven’t personally noticed any decrease in my reading comprehension, but then I read pretty lightweight books (mostly paranormal mysteries involving women kicking the ass of vampires, werewolves, and the like) just for the fun of escaping into another world.
What about you? Are you an e-reader devotee, or do you prefer paper? Have you noticed any decreased comprehension from reading e-books? Leave your thoughts in the comments!