Am coming round slowly, and rather late, to using an electronic reader. Basically, it all came about because I was dying to read Jacob’s Folly and couldn’t wait for it to come out in paperback (why do publishers bother with the hardback edition thing nowadays?)
It took a while to get used to it. Firstly, I do miss being able to pass on and share a book when I have finished with it. But maybe that is better for authors, who will now get paid twice if I manage to persuade a friend it is worth buying a book.
Also, if it’s a good book, which it is, I will want to extract my favourite bits to use on this here blog. So it’s cumbersome not being able to stick a book mark in and (how sad am I?) having to find paper and pen when I come across the best bits, in order to write them down.
The most important thing I wondered though, as my eyes skittered about the page, is whether reading electronically makes me read differently. Do I treat the text as screen based text, which is primarily text that I skim read in order to extract information, rather than text that is meant to be digested and thought about?
Don’t be silly, I thought, putting my doubts down to the ramblings of my inner, hard-to-dismiss traditionalist. Information is information. It goes in whatever. Times change. People adapt.
But I thought I might as well check it out, and found this research:
which indicates that my first thoughts do indeed have a scientific basis. We absorb information better if it is presented to us on a physical page.
Maybe, in the case of Jacob’s Folly, it does not really matter. I read primarily for entertainment. Granted, I read with fairly specific idea in mind of what constitutes good entertainment, and constantly compare what I am reading with this specification.
But there is much to love in Jacob’s Folly in the language, and the ideas, and do I recall these specific passages as well as I recall the bits I loved in The Red House? No, I don’t. Does that worry me? I admit that it does.