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August 9th, 2016

Vast Majority of College Students Prefer Print Books to E-books

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A new study finds that 92 percent of college students from around the world prefer print books to e-books.

This finding comes from American University linguistics professor Naomi S. Baron and her team, according to the Los Angeles Times. The team surveyed 300 college students in the U.S, Japan, Germany and Slovakia about how they preferred to read.

Speaking to the New Republic, Baron explained why the students preferred print books over e-books.

“There are two big issues,” Baron said. “The first was they say they get distracted, pulled away to other things. The second had to do with eye strain and headaches and physical discomfort.”

The findings of the study may in part explain why ebook sales were down in 2015 over the previous year, according to the Association of American Publishers. Additionally, as we’ve previously reported, sales of print books have recently been on the rise.

There are likely many additional reasons that students prefer print books to e-books, including the fact that studies have shown readers retain more from reading print sources than digital sources.

Baron has also found that reading online becomes a much different experience than reading print books because of the opportunities for distraction.

“The ways we use technologies lead us to develop particular habits of mind,” she wrote in the Huffington Post. “With print, even though we might skim and scan, the default mindset is continuous reading. It’s also focusing on what we’re reading, even though sometimes our thoughts wander. Digital technologies engender a different set of habits and practices. Their default state is what I call reading on the prowl. Think of how much time you spend on each hit after doing a Google search. A minute? Ten seconds? And how likely are you to be multitasking while reading onscreen?”

And Baron has found another reason, as well.

“My research shows people are more likely to re-read if they have a book in hard copy,” she said. “You might see the title on your shelf and think, ‘I hadn’t thought about that scene in a long time.’ There are certain connections we make that go beyond decoding words.”