Reading in Print vs. Electronic

Steven Johnson articulates my primary frustration when reading e-books: the inability to skim.

It’s a funny thing with print vs. ebooks; the digital age is supposed to be all about attention deficit disorder and hypertextual distractions, but ebooks lock you into reading them in a linear fashion more than print books do. It’s much easier to pick up a print book and flip through the pages, get a sense of the argument or structure, than it is with an ebook (or magazine.) It’s a very interesting interface challenge: I think it’s probably solvable, and I know many smart folks are working on it, but we don’t have a true solution yet.

On a related note, here’s Bob Sutton writing about some evidence that you comprehend / retain information better when reading off the printed page versus the screen. Though that advantage is narrowing as screens improve…

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