Newspaper article China Post

Is Reading on Paper Better Than Reading off Screens?

Newspaper article China Post

Is Reading on Paper Better Than Reading off Screens?

Article excerpt

In a very good editorial commentary at the end of August, titled "Loss of bookstores signals crossroads of virtual, real," the China Post made some very good points about bookstores, book culture and electronic reading devices.

The decline of "Book Street" along Zhongqing South Rd. "does not mean that readers will stop buying books or have nowhere else to buy them," the editorial explained, adding: "Books are now widely available from online bookstores and there are more and more e-books downloadable to electronic devices such as computers, the Kindle and smartphones."

But as your editorial writer explained, "going to bookstores is not just about buying books, although the possibility of owning them is essential and sets the activity apart from going to libraries, which offer a very similar experience," it's also about "browsing the titles, caressing the covers, smelling the scent of paper and flipping the pages, all within a unique and almost sacred venue with most of one's fellow readers coming with a similar purpose and looking for a similar experience."

There is something else that needs to be addressed here, and that is whether reading on screens is the same experience, in terms of brain chemistry, as reading text on paper surfaces. I call what people do when they read on screens as "screening," and I coined this new term in order to differentiate "screening" from traditional "reading."

Reading on paper is reading, but reading on a computer screen or Kindle screen is "screening." Think about it.

This is an important issue that the tech industry here in Taiwan and in global society as a whole has so far not faced up to. What I believe - and what leading experts in the field such as Anne Mangen in Norway and Maryanne Wolf at Tufts University also suggest - is that the fundamental differences between paper-reading and screen-reading might be so big as to light up different regions of "the reading brain" and that these differences need to be studied more, especially with (f)MRi and PET brain scan research. …

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