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4 Advantages Of Reading Physical Books

We believe that reading daily is an advantage-builder. However, reading all the time is not enough. It is critical that we make the most of the time we invest into reading.

Research Question
Are there benefits to reading physical books vs. digital books? If so, what are the advantages of reading a physical copy of a book instead of reading it on a screen?

Our Conclusion
Yes, after an extensive research process, we believe it is smarter to read physical books.

Advantage #1: Print books are distraction-free.

Reading without comprehension is a waste of time, and the biggest threat to reading comprehension is distraction.

When you read a physical book, there is nothing else competing for your attention.

There are no notifications to turn-off. There are no windows to close. It's just you and the words on the page.

Reading from a screen also makes it easy to multi-task. And we know that multi-tasking is one of the stupidities to avoid, at all costs.

(By the way, that is what Charlie was alluding to in the quote above.)

Advantage #2: Print text requires less .

Your brain has more energy (for more reading) when you read print.

Research shows that reading using a digital device is more cognitively taxing than reading print.

Concomitantly, participants in the VDT presentation condition of the consumption of information study reported higher levels of experienced stress and tiredness whereas the participants in the VDT presentation condition of production of information study reported only slightly higher levels of stress.

via Effects of VDT and paper presentation on consumption and production of information: Psychological and physiological factors (2005)

Advantage #3: Print books are easier on your eyes.

If you want to learn something useful from your reading, you are likely going to need to spend more than a few minutes reading it. Print books are better for longer reading time.

When considered alongside the findings of Rosenfield (2011), Benedetto (2013), Harris (2013), and Conlon (2011), Kretzschmar’s research further refines our understanding of the unique functionalities of print, e-paper, and LCDs: For shorter reading sessions that require less cognitive effort, the optical qualities of an LCD computer screen are sufficient, which may explain why many people have abandoned print newspapers and magazines in favor of the greater convenience of on-line editions. However, the non-illuminated displays of e-paper and print books are better suited to reading longer, more challenging texts.

via Digital vs. Print: Reading Comprehension and the Future of the Book (2014)

Advantage #4:  Physicality is important for comprehension.

According to our research, the physical nature of a book is important for reading comprehension.

Furthermore, a book does not have navigational barriers. You open where you left off. You can easily find something you highlighted or marked to re-review.

E-readers have these features, but they require more steps. If I want to find that passage that I thought was worth sharing,

Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension.

via Evidence increases for reading on paper instead of screens (2019)

Reading makes you wise. However, if you want to compound wisdom faster, it is best to keep physical books. Reading comprehension means you understand what you read, can connect it to other ideas, and integrate it into your personal knowledge base.