Study finds that many students currently prefer physical books to e-readers

With the proliferation of Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers, not to mention tablets and even smartphones that can access and show large quantities of text, it might be predicted that traditional books will soon become obsolete - particularly given the increasing concern about limited resources and the volume of paper needed to manufacture books in large quantities. But while the day may come where physical books are no longer important, one recent study suggests that it's still some ways off. In a survey of over 300 college students from the U.S., Europe and Japan, conducted by Naomi Baron of American University, it was found that a full 92% of those surveyed expressed a preference for physical books over electronic means for "serious" reading (that is, reading full-length books). Baron does also note that standardized tests assessing reading comprehension of passages give about the same results no matter whether presented in print or onscreen, suggesting that preferences may change as the length of the text increases - a suggestion that is supported by some of the reasons given by the students in the survey, who cited eyestrain, battery life problems, and a desire to track how far they have gotten (or how much they have left) in the book. These preferences and their underlying reasons would be helpful information to teachers or publishers trying to determine how best to provide assignments that rely on extensive reading.

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By: Michael Walpole
Mathematics Project Manager