Paper vs. e-book: which is better?

Have you ever wondered whether a paper book or an e-book was better? The correct answer is paper.

A 2014 study published in the Journal PNAS found that reading an e-book before bedtime decreased the production of melatonin, a hormone that preps the body for sleep, therefore getting a better nights sleep if you read a paper book. E-books also impair alertness for the next day. Several small studies suggest that reading on paper instead of on a device is better for memory retention and focus. (CBSNews)

Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it harder to remember what we read when we are done. Paper books are better at conveying information. A study reported in the Guardian reported in 2015 found that readers using an e-book were less likely to recall events in a mystery novel than people who read the same novel in print. The weight of feeling and also seeing where you are in a paper book helps us to remember what events happened first, whereas with e-books you can’t see or feel it. It’s the same weight and you only see a page at a time.

You keep paper books your whole life! Technology will only keep growing, and yes, you can just download them again, but isn’t re-downloading a book every time you want to read it tiring? Besides, it’s sort of satisfying seeing bookshelves stuffed and filled with books. There is a link between physical gestures and cognition. The things we do to paper books seem to help us understand and remember better.

They’re easier to share and take notes of or from. You can put notes in the margin’s, highlight a important phrases, and dog-ear important pages. It’s also nice to feel the pages of a used, worn-down book. It’s like you can feel what it has gone through and it’s nice to see what was important to the other people who have used that book. They are also theft resistant. If you leave a book in the car, it will most definitely be there when you come back, unlike a device – unless it’s a book thief.