Why Paper Books Speak Volumes Over eBooks

Jordan Lee, Front Page Editor

With the advent of eBooks and other digital reading devices, technology users have access to a plethora of traditionally paperback works. Despite this new avenue for accessing works of literature, physical paper books will always hold more value than eBooks, as they provide a more engaging experience for their readers.

“I like being able to remember parts of the book and see how close I am to the end,” world history teacher Heidi Martasian said. “It’s so much more visual when you have the real book in your hand.”

Paperback books give readers a physical connection to the story they are reading, and each flip of a page adds to the experience of progressing through the book.

“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,” researcher Anne Mangen from Stavanger University told The Guardian.

Additionally, paperback books allow us to stay focused and engaged in the plot of a story or premise of an argument. When reading a book, you can easily fall into a “reading groove,” which thus provides an immersive experience where every simile and metaphor speaks volumes.

“In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,” Mangen also reported to the Guardian.

Unlike traditional paper books, eBooks can easily become a distraction for readers, as the devices one reads on has other purposes, including online communication, games, etc. Due to the multitude of uses for online devices, readers are not directly engaged with the books they are reading and are not able to deeply appreciate the beauty of a novel.

“When reading either for (school) work or pleasure, the preponderance of students found it easiest to concentrate when reading in print,” author Naomi S. Baron reported in her book Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. “They also reported multitasking almost three times as much when reading onscreen as when reading in hard copy.”

Though eBooks’ ease of access is seen as an advantage of real books, it actually further lowers a book’s sentimental and physical value. Since eBooks can be easily downloaded, previewed and summarized online, many readers do not spend time thoroughly enjoying and understanding a novel front to back. Instead, they skim through pages on a screen and impatiently jump to the next book on the list.

There is no doubt that paperback books provide a far more superior reading experience, as their physical substance outweighs the empty words of an electronic screen.