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The Great Debate: Tablet vs. Hard Copy

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Whether or not this is still a topic for debate, we all have a preferred method of getting our information, in either digital or hard copy format. We’ve already seen how newspapers are falling by the wayside as digital media has become more and more desirable; smartphones and other mobile devices make access to that information more convenient. In our modern lives, is there room for both digital and print?

Beautiful African American woman sitting on the sofa reading a book

There are many benefits to using a tablet or e-reader. They offer 24-hour access to an endless library of books; as soon as one is finished, another is easily downloaded. For avid readers, this is undoubtedly a benefit. In the academic world, students are able to access textbooks in digital format, making them much less expensive (and weighty) than their hard copy counterparts. Studies have found that reluctant readers, as well as students with learning disabilities, often prefer and benefit a digital platform for reading. And travelers can certainly vouch for the e-reader; multiple books are at your access without adding weight to already heavy luggage.

On the flip side, there are some cons: reading retention is affected by e-readers. Studies have found that the brain’s ability to hold on to information is diminished by a digital experience. There is also a physical element to retaining information, as we might recall previously read material based on which side of the page it was on; when we hold a book and turn its pages, we have a physical connection that makes a lasting impression. We all know how important it is to limit screen time before bed – the blue light triggers brain activity that makes it harder for us to wind down at night. And with access to the internet on most digital devices, it is far too easy to drift over to another task (online shopping, checking social media, etc.) when the ability to do so is just one click away.

Senior African American couple on sofa smiling affectionately

Perhaps one of the main reasons why print media will never go away is out of a very simple emotional connection we feel to physical print – it’s a nostalgic reminder of simpler times; books will smell and feel familiar or remind us of past experiences. In the book world, this is ultimately a debate that has been settled: digital and print will coexist. You’ll still be able to go to a local bookstore to purchase the newest releases and old classics, while also maintaining a digital library for those times when a digital device is required or preferred.

Which do you prefer: an e-reader/tablet or hard copy?

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