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The Eye and i of Reading


Starting a new decade of the 21st century and amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, people have adapted to digital and online platforms like never before. Printed readings are not getting produced and online content keeps flourishing. Hard copies are traded off with digital and soft copies. The fast-changing world is flooded with newer and more feasible options. Screen reading is one of the examples. It has become a norm now. Getting information to read via phone and digital screens is widely mainstream, so much that printed reading has taken a backseat now. But that doesn’t make digital reading better.

Studies and researches have shown over the period, that there is a dilemma in the better reading option.

Printed reading is like meditation, provides mindfulness. It envisages the story of what is being read because of the undivided attention. Printed reading, in comparison to digital reading, is less visually demanding. Because of how it soothes the eyes, it helps in savoring the story.

On the other hand, screen reading is done more speedily. It fuels the hunger for quantitative and not qualitative knowledge. Everything is so speedy and dynamic that it has become a tedious process to truly digest and cherish. It’s much harder to have an emotional relationship with e-books.

Scrolling vs. Turning the page

The human mind paints a picture every time it’s fed written information via reading. It’s like making a map of whatever is written, but in the case of digital reading, those important milestones and dots tend to be a little blurry.

The University of Central Florida found that scrolling which requires the readers to focus on both the text and graphics drains more mental resources than turning a page.

Neuroscience has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper than from a screen. The more the mind reads from a screen the more it shifts towards non-linear reading.

Turning the page is considered helpful in our cognitive behaviors. It provides a sense of chronological accuracy and adheres to the senses of texture (touch) and sometimes smells too which have proven helpful in processing the information.

Comprehending & Connection

When reading on-screen people are less likely to engage in metacognitive regulations, which are strategies that involve setting up specific goals, re-reading specific sections, and checking how much they have understood while reading.

Studies have shown that it is much more complex to comprehend digital text because it puts the mind into a habit of fast and superficial reading.

Exposure to technology, with the emphasis on speed and multitasking, may encourage a shallower kind of processing leading to decreasing amounts of deep comprehension in digital environments.

In a study from 2009, a marketing research company called Millward Brown concluded that the brain processes physical and digital readings distinctively. Print materials were more likely to trigger the medial prefrontal cortex and cingulate cortex, both involved in processing than the digital materials. Reading hard copy also induced more activity in the parietal cortex, which processes visual and spatial cues.

The imprudent confidence developed because of screen reading comes with repercussions in the long run. The less effort put into reading means the content is less likely to be comprehended.

It could be considered gone days now but the researchers have shown time and again that printed reading is considered deep reading because holding a book develops that connection between the book and the reader’s mind.

For a reader, who is interested in learning what the material has to offer, print readings have an edge. Magazines and periodicals are touted to be the companion of leisure.

Fran Lebowitz, an American author says, “I am a hundred percent, incapable of throwing a book away. A book is the closest thing to a human being.”

To many, books are one of the greatest possessions of their life. It provides a sense of belongingness and connection with the content.

To connect to self and cherish the content that is chosen by self, reading via magazines and book is a culture, a lifestyle.

Retaining Information

Printed books allow readers to look at the text, highlight the important parts, and get a feeling of where they are in the content, making it easier to study.

Screens make it difficult to see a certain passage in the context of the entire text.

Research says, found it harder to recall the plot details of a short mystery story when they're read on Kindle, compared to those who read the same story on a paperback book.

What do the statistics say?

• In 2018, more than 2.7 billion books were sold in the United States generating revenue of 22 billion dollars.

• 67% of college students stated they were likely to multitask while reading digitally.

• In the 2020 worldwide lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, 67% of the readers opted for physical books, and only 33%chose to read digitally.

• Millennials are blamed for killing many industries but it’s the young people that appear to be driving the sale of printed books. 63% of physical book sales are to people under the age of 44 and 52% are to those over 45 years of age in the UK.


Fiction, crime, romance are the most read genres in e-books, on the other hand, cookbooks, political landscape, nature books, and children's books dominate the printed books.

E-books started with a lot of innovation in the academic area of publishing and then came into trade publishing. It started with romantic fiction and then erotic fiction because people found it marvelous to read all that in public anonymously.

E-books are relatively new. Kindle by Amazon was launched in New York and it sold out in just 5:30 hours. Kindle popularized e-books and screen reading.

On the other hand, physical designs are more appealing. Cover designs are amazing. Booklover wants a record of what he has read. Paperback books are also a great decorative at home.

For most, old printed books still win, despite digital media has disrupted many other industries. The future holds a lot of possibilities for any format of books.

People always need knowledge and stories, it may be written or printed or audio, but still will keep imparting knowledge.

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