| 03.20.2018

Coffee stains, quotes and dog-eared pages

Print books outweigh eBook effectiveness and character


Cracking open a book and smelling the history in its pages has got to be one of life’s finer moments.

Nothing quite compares to the perfect scent of musty wood mixed with vanilla housed between the front and back of every book. But that’s not the only thing books have going for them.

In an age where technology is developing faster than ever before, faster than our ability to adapt to it, it’s easy to forget where we once were — telling stories and sharing information solely through books.

And not eBooks that you read on your Kindle, Nook or tablet. I mean real, tangible, musty smelling books that you can find on the sturdy shelves in a library or book store.

Print books provide a variety of opportunities that digital books do not. Print books are wrapped up neatly in a cover that tells the story better than starting at the book’s first line.

The covers also tell others what you are reading, allowing them to engage, making reading a community experience. Book covers can start meaningful conversations in a way that a Kindle logo cannot.

But print books are more than just their covers. They are the sum of every good quote waiting to be underlined on every captivating page waiting to be dog-eared. There’s something so gratifying about being able to write in a book, contributing your thoughts alongside the authors, trying to fully understand each word.

Grayson Hughbanks | Argonaut

Print books are physical histories of not just their life, but your life. They hold so many stories. They hold the story the author is trying to tell, they hold the story of where the book has been and they hold the story of where each reader has been.

My copies of James Patterson and John Green novels have been so many places, and in them are marks I made years ago, telling the story of what was important to me at that time in my life. The quotes I underlined spoke to me in a way they may not speak to anyone else in the world, and the words I wrote beside the quotes reflect that.

To be able to look at my bookshelf and remember where I used to be in life and see where I am now, to be able to recount my past emotions through them, is fascinating.

Print books are visually appealing, they’re great to save and pass on, they bundle up emotion and passion and yet they are also scientifically proven to be better for you than digital books.

According to two studies by University of Stavanger faculty in Norway in 2013 and 2014, printed reading is easier to comprehend than digital.

For the studies, students and adults were split into two groups, one that read print text and one that read digital text. The subjects in the print condition scored significantly higher on comprehension tests, most likely because printed text is easier to navigate and the act of turning pages helps readers orient themselves within the plot.

In addition, lighted digital screens can tire the eyes and the brain. In a 2005 study conducted in Sweden, researchers found that reading on a screen requires more mental work than reading from paper. In 2014, Harvard researches found that e-readers with LED screens disrupt sleep.

Print books are healthier for the brain and better for learning, and they tell more stories than their digital counterparts. So, while eBooks can be conveniently inexpensive and travel light, they just don’t compare to a good old-fashioned book with character-filled coffee stains and scented, bent pages.

Jordan Willson can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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