Why digital natives prefer reading in print

Even though, in a scholarly sense, I’m all about the best ways to convert to digital (especially when it comes to simple and complex information-seeking behaviors), I’ve always believed that print is (and will always be) best when it comes to reading for pleasure:

Frank Schembari loves books — printed books. He loves how they smell. He loves scribbling in the margins, underlining interesting sentences, folding a page corner to mark his place.

Schembari is not a retiree who sips tea at Politics and Prose or some other bookstore. He is 20, a junior at American University, and paging through a thick history of Israel between classes, he is evidence of a peculiar irony of the Internet age: Digital natives prefer reading in print.

The most interesting bit, I thought, from this Washington Post piece was how reading the physical version of a text helps readers plot a better “mental map,” which ultimately aids in overall retention and comprehension.

Researchers say readers remember the location of information simply by page and text layout — that, say, the key piece of dialogue was on that page early in the book with that one long paragraph and a smudge on the corner. Researchers think this plays a key role in comprehension.

This article primarily focuses on college students choosing physical textbooks over their digital counterparts, despite the furtive efforts by educational publishers to enhance their digital products for higher ed. However, after years of working in bookstores and libraries, and being around a lot of young readers, I can say that this carries over to pleasure reading as well. It would be interesting to see that trend piece next.

read thisCheck out Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print in the Washington Post.

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