Kindle or Classic?


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Alida Cummings, News Editor

Books are perhaps one of the greatest and oldest forms of entertainment available to people.

Whether you read for school or for leisure, books are an important part of your life. Now, with all of the recent technological revolutions and advances, humans have a new medium through which we can read: thousands of stories are available at the touch of a finger with Kindles, phones, and other devices. The real dilemma is deciding whether books or e-readers are better for you.

For me, and probably some of you, nothing could ever beat the feeling of turning through thick, textured pages between two halves of a hardcover. Besides aesthetic, though, there are many benefits of reading a physical book.

According to CBS news, reading physical books may help you to focus and retain the information you read better than e-books. Several small studies have discovered that participants who read paper stories did better on a memory quiz than participants who read the same stories on ebooks. Researcher Anne Mangen, of Norway’s Stavanger University, explained why this might be the case: “You have the tactile sense of progress … Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader’s sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story.”

In addition to boosting reading retention, CBS also notes that studies have found that paper books are much easier on the eyes and better for sleep than e-readers. Research shows that many e-readers produce light that can damage the eyes and interfere with sleep; reading an e-book before bed has been connected to decreased production of melatonin, the hormone that preps your body for sleep.

Finally, reading physical books is really beneficial for young readers to gain a love of reading early on, says Scholastic. It has been found that reading a physical book with a loving parent or a caring teacher helps young children connect reading with nurturing, leading to a greater likelihood of enjoying reading later on in life.

Just because paper books are superior in those ways does not mean that e-books are out of the running. Their simple ability to store hundreds and even thousands of books in a fraction of the space, as well as their transportability, can make them much more convenient than paperback books. Kindles and other digital platforms also allow for a personal and customized reading experience, according to CBS and Scholastic. E-readers allow those with poor vision or dyslexia to edit the text size and line spacing, allowing them to improve their reading ability and focus. In addition, parents of young readers can customize the learning process of their children on devices; this can include interactive sounds and buttons that may get them excited about reading.

Other benefits of digital books include helping reluctant readers gain a better appreciation for books. One study published in the journal Library & Information Science Research demonstrated that people who are reluctant to read will often enjoy reading digital books more than physical books. This is something that the author of the study, Åse Kristine Tveit, says can be attributed to the familiarity young people have with digital devices. In short, young people are more receptive to devices that resemble their mobile phones.

Whether or not you like to read, there is a book out there for you somewhere. But where should you look for it? It turns out that it may be more of a decision of preference than a matter of fact. Kindles, iPods, and other mobile devices can be just as useful and enjoyable as solid paper, and it’s really up to you to decide how you want to read.