Young readers prefer printed books


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I prefer print unless the book is more than two inches thick.

Plus, how am I supposed to spy on other people’s reading habits or put my own on display with ereaders?

Edited to acknowledge that alas I am not young.

It makes sense to me to draw a line in the mind between books (requiring focus for longer periods) and browsing on a screen (which tends to encourage a sort of branching behavior, and which have become synonymous with distraction).

That said, I’m not really in the “paper books are better” crowd myself anymore. I like being able to carry my Kindle with me to work and read stuff during my lunch break. When reading in bed, I like the lighter weight (compared to a hardcover anyway) and the fact that when I fall asleep and set it down distractedly and knock it off the bed in my sleep, I won’t have bent any pages nor lost my place. And I really like being able to stock up on reading material from the library website and/or Amazon without going anywhere.

(Comics and graphic novels do still mostly seem to work better on paper. There is too much zooming and scrolling and whatnot otherwise.)

That said, I was reading Irenicon in hardcover at lunch a few weeks ago and an older lady said “you like to read books? I don’t see that much anymore. Most people are addicted to computers.” I answered “Oh, I am too, I just don’t sleep very much.”


I wonder how people’s preferences for eInk dedicated readers vs tablets. Personally I have a hard time reading on tablets as there are always distractions popping up but my Kindle has been incredible - I’ve never read as much, as happily or as often as I have after getting one. I find it pleasant to look at and it’s easier to hold and flip pages than paper books of any size.

I sorta miss the cover artwork (if only Kindle screen savers would default to the current book!) but not enough to pull me back to paper.

That said, I’m not young anymore either :slight_smile:

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Old readers agree.


In a world that continually demands one to be more and more plugged in, physical books provide a dual escape both through the story itself and the ability to remove yourself from the electronic cage, if only for a little while.


It’s not really “the world”, it’s just other people like you, but who pass off their expectations onto a fictitious group identity.

Hooray, I prefer printed books as well, so that means I am young!

No logical fallacy there at all, nope.

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I find I’m a more careful reader on paper, less likely to skim if there’s no mouse control. Maybe I’m just old. However one thing I do know – students on campus still carry paper books because they are required to, not because they want to. After the Thor Power Tools decision, those damn things have become so expensive that no one would buy them unless they had to.

I still lug around physical text books because my professor requires the physical book. When professors change their ways so will we.

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I still don’t understand the distinction. Once I start reading it doesn’t matter if it’s words carved into stone, or shot directly into my eye with nano-quantum lasers, the words stop existing for me and just become a story in my head.
It’s true that if I’m reading something on a computer, that I might get distracted, but that’s still the same if I sit in front of my computer with a book.
Otherwise I don’t notice a difference between ebooks and paper ones, except that ebooks are a bit more handy physically, but are slightly harder to flick through.

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No man is an island, etc. etc.

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I think looking at textbook sales is a very misleading metric for what young readers “prefer”. College textbooks are not sold like other books:

  • You have a convenient on-campus store that stocks them and is organized by class.
  • Official digital editions cost just as much as print editions, and some print editions come with a download option.
  • Some classes require the print edition.
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This. On my current to read stack is The Journey To The West which is 4 big tomes and having the Nook to read them on is so much nicer as it goes anywhere easily and if I have network I can amuse myself with the NYT crossword as well.
Another part of it has been in the past going yeah all these books I thought I would read again and haven’t and since have been donated to the library, bookcrossing, etc. and it feels better to have less stuff about the house.
I now only buy stuff like the previously mentioned books that well while I love it, it is going to take me longer than a library loan to get through (plus the library only has volume 1) or I just can’t find except in print like my guilty pleasure of Doc Savage.

One thing I noticed about printed vs. electronic textbooks is that the quality isn’t necessarily the same. I bought the electronic version of a textbook for a class I took recently because it was $100 cheaper than the print version. Score, right? It would’ve been great, but the publisher did a crap job of scanning the pages (very low-res) and they added a watermark with my name on it to every page (i assume that was meant to discourage sharing/printing). It was unreadable. I had to request a refund and ended up renting a print version from Amazon.

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Based on Amazon reviews it seems common for kindle versions of anything including graphics, tables or pictures of any sort to be designed shoddily compared to the print versions. Even in cases when the designers actually tried, often the smallish, lower-res, black and white, slow-touchscreen reader display is simply not good enough to use without a lot of fussing around and frustration.

All that to say: textbooks are a very specific use case where print is usually just plain better. I wonder what “young readers” prefer when it comes to books for reading, instead of for referencing.

It seems to me that textbooks are a use case where separate printed books have bigger advantages than usual. If you are reading a novel, then you are probably reading one at a time and not doing much else at the same time. Having several textbooks open on your desk while writing something and perhaps using a computer for something else is not unusual. Unless you have an unusually impressive collection of hardware, that is going to be much less convenient with ebooks.

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I never said “the world” I said “a world.” You could use society instead if you want. Certainly the “world” I live in demands me to be plugged in almost constantly. Yours may not.

Whenever I hear the term “digital native”, I vomit a little in my mouth.

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