How We Read and Why

There are several items which I read distinctly on screen and on paper formats. I tend to read for pleasure on paper, therefore books and magazines will take this format. I read websites, emails, the news and journal articles on a screen. The main factors influencing my choice of formats are Convenience, Quality of Reading, and Emotional Influence.

For ease of use and availability I tend to read emails and the news on a screen. I do not feel the need to print them as typically one read through is enough and as I have a smart phone they can be referred back to later if I have forgotten something. Finding and buying a newspaper is inconvenient so I tend to opt to check the news through the CBC app. The app is much more portable and can be checked at a moments notice while waiting in line or commuting. I also tend to read journal articles on my laptop. This is not how I prefer to read them but to print the many articles I must read each week for school is very expensive and far heavier then finding them on my laptop.

Quality of reading is very important in my choice of reading on a screen versus paper. When I read off of a screen I have the tendency to skim rather than read deeply and I am far easier to distract and I am not alone. Many articles have been published with the results that readers who read off a screen over paper will skim and their comprehension will suffer (Rosenwald, 2015).

For this reason though I read articles on my laptop I will print my study notes and papers for proof reading. This allows me to concentrate on what is available without email notices popping up or distracting websites a click away.

The most important factor that influences my format choices is emotional influence. Aside from quality of reading, emotional influence also impacts my choice to study my notes on paper versus on a screen. Flipping pages while I study provides me with a sense of accomplishment and progress that I do not feel when I scroll. This is the same feeling I have when I am struggling through a text chapter in hard cover versus digital. This of accomplishment has been explained as a sensory offload that is supported by visual progress (Flood, 2014).

Though convenience is an important factor it does not always outweigh emotional impact. As I travel a lot on weekends for a time I switched to a Kobo reader because it is smaller and much lighter for packing. However while reading the kobo on the bus I found I could not read for as long and I would be more interested in what other people are doing then the story. Another aspect of emotional influence comes from my lack of luck with technology. I have dowloaded viruses at the most inconvenient of times and had accidents with three laptops resulting in a loss of all my notes. These incidents have cause me to develop a lack of trust in technology, trusting the tangibility of a book. I think I fear buying ebooks and having my Kobo die either by breaking or the soft or hardware becoming obsolete.  Needless to say I have switched back to paper books.

Emotional influence also influences my choice to read through pleasure on paper through nostalgia. I think most people who love books appreciate the smell of a new book and the feeling of a book in your hands. That is something one just does not experience on a laptop, iPad or eBook. Most of my reading happens on vacation or before sleeping. As a masters student I spend all day looking at a screen, doing work and reading a paper book allows me to disconnect from technology. I find I fall asleep faster and sleep better when I have the opportunity to read a paper book before falling asleep. This phenomenon has been examined in several studies that have found the light emitted by the reader causes the reader to become less sleepy and may take almost 10 minutes longer to fall asleep. Furthermore eReaders can cause less REM sleep and reduce reader alertness the next day (Flood, 2014).



Flood, Alison. (2014). Ebooks at night won’t help you sleep tight, US study finds. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Flood, Alison. (2014). Readers absorb less on Kindles then on paper, study finds. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Rosenwald, Michael. (2015). Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes you read that right. The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

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