Should You Crack Open a Real Book?

By Sydney Starr

The Charter Opinions – 1/10/19

In this day and age it can feel as though reading a paper book is all but obsolete. But, there is good reason to crack open a real book. I think paper books provide an experience that digital books just can’t match. And, studies show that a majority of people prefer paper books, and reading from paper aids memory.

According to a poll produced by SurveyMonkey, 40 percent of over 300 American readers prefer to read only from paper books. While only 10% like to read from digital books, and 60% prefer to read from both types of books.

Obtained from: Accessed on January 9, 2019.

Furthermore, a survey done in 2016 by the Pew Research Center “…finds that the share of Americans who have read a book in the last 12 months (73%) has remained largely unchanged since 2012. And when people reach for a book, it is much more likely to be a traditional print book than a digital product. Fully 65% of Americans have read a print book in the last year, more than double the share that has read an e-book (28%) and more than four times the share that has consumed book content via audio book (14%).”

Therefore, we can see that paper books are still a popular choice for reading.

Drawn by Natalie Ramsey.

In addition, one benefit of reading from paper books, is that it improves your memory of the material. An article about E-Books and Memory from Time magazine says “Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing.”… Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page — or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic — can help cement material in mind… E-books, however, provide fewer spatial landmarks than print… Printed books on the other hand, give us a physical reference point, and part of our recall includes how far along in the book we are, something that’s more challenging to assess on an e-book.”

Likewise, Sarah Sanderson, ACA’s Language Arts department co-head says “I know I can usually remember which part of which side of the page something was located, which helps me find it again. That doesn’t happen with digital books!”

Moreover, digital books simply don’t provide the same experience as paper books. For many people the feeling of the paper pages beneath their fingers, the weight of the book, and the smell of it is very important.

While digital books do provide a level of convenience that paper books don’t, the benefits of paper books far outweigh the convenience of digital books; and it seems that most people would agree.

Sanderson also says “Personally, I prefer paper books because it’s what I’m used to. There’s nothing like the feel of a real book, bought from a real bookstore! But for classroom use, I also prefer paper books…”

And ACA’s librarian, Jennifer Hitchcock, says “For me as a reader, the paper experience is what I prefer.  The tactile feature of holding the book, turning pages of paper that are bright or glossy, and the scent of a book draw me closer to the content.  The low tech feature of printed books allows me to read without needing internet, electricity or a device. Physical bookmarks, sticky notes or marked up pages (of my personal books) deepen the connection to material and make it easy to share with someone nearby.”

On the whole, I think that the benefits of paper books and the wonderful tactile experience they provide is far better than the convenience of digital books. Paper books also seem to be what most people prefer, and they aid memory. So, I hope the next time you go to read a book, you pick the paper one.


Hitchcock, Jennifer. Personal Email Interview. January 5, 2018.

Korwitts, Kayte. SurveyMonkey. Accesed December 27, 2018.

Kowalczyk, Piotr. EBook Friendly. February 11, 2018. Accesed December 27, 2018.

Perrin, Andrew. Pew Research Center. September 1, 2016. Accesed January 8, 2019.

Sanderson, Sarah. Personal Email Interview. January 6, 2019

Szalavitz, Maia. Time. March 14, 2012. Accesed December 27, 2018.