It appears that critics of e-readers have more to add to their critiques aside from battery life and aesthetics. During the summer, a study was presented at a conference in Italy which found that readers using a Kindle recalled events in a mystery story significantly worse than readers using paperback books.
The study split 50 total readers into a Kindle group and a paperback group. The groups read a 28-page short story and then were tested on important aspects of the story including characters, setting, and objects.
Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway, one of the lead researchers on the study, posited that academics might “find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device.” Her predictions were based on an earlier studying of a similar variety, but swapping the Kindle out for an iPad. In that study, paper readers were found to report higher on measures related to empathy, immersion, and narrative coherence when compared to the iPad readers.
Mangen also provided a third source as evidence. A paper published in 2013, which talks of a study that gave 72 Norwegian 10th grade students texts to read in print and in PDF on a computer screen. These students were then given tests to measure their comprehension. In this test they found, as you might guess, that students who read from print had significantly better scores than those who used the PDFs.
The results of these studies make the debate between e-readers and print texts all the more interesting. Despite these findings, e-readers certainly have a lot of benefits that make them worthwhile. E-readers provide readers the opportunity to carry multiple books at the same time, which can be well used by schools and students who need to do lots of traveling. They also offer convenient features, such as dictionary function that defines words that readers do not understand in the text.
Which do you prefer?