A recent study conducted across Europe explored the effect of digitisation on reading. Readers using Kindle couldn’t recall events in a mystery novel as well as paperback readers.
This study, presented in Italy, gave 50 readers a short story by Elizabeth George. 25 read it in paperback while the other half read in on a Kindle. After this, researchers tested the readers with certain aspects of the story. Some of these included objects, characters and settings.
Anne Mangen, one of the lead researchers of the study, suggested that there might be differences in the “immersion” offered by the device used to read and the paper format.
That said, the results were similar with the only difference being Kindle readers not being able to recall the correct sequence of events. The researchers suggest that the haptic and tactile feedback that books offer doesn’t occur with Kindle readers.
In other words, when you flip pages, you get that tactile and visual sense of progress that doesn’t happen with e-readers. This also helps aid the reader’s sense of progress when it comes to the text and story.
Another study gave text to 72 Norwegian 10th graders to read in print and in PDF format. The ones who read the text on paper scored better than the others.
That said, the study only had two participants who were Kindle regulars. More research was necessary with those who use Kindle readers more often. Mangen also mentioned that it would an assumption to think that these regulars would perform better.
Finally, it isn’t all about this new habit (of reading e-books). There’s more than meets the eye. Most of all, this shouldn’t be a reason to replace books with iPads since most students still prefer to read paper-based books today.