Oh! This is interesting. I've found that I struggle to comprehend things when reading on a screen as opposed to reading on paper, and I figured it was just me (being old and all). It's one thing to do a quick perusal of something, but if I'm actually going to sit down and read a book, I need to actually read the physical book to get the most out of the experience. I'm glad to know it's not just my aging brain that's the problem but an actual thing that happens to people.

I've noticed this too, I can't read from any screen, which is why I never wanted a kindle and NEED actual books to study vs online editions

I think their results are explainable by the fact that they had everybody reading fiction.

Think about how nonfiction and reference (textbooks, manuals) text is often divided into two or more columns per page.
Ever notice how fiction is NEVER printed like that? Fiction is pretty much invariably printed in one wide-ass column going all the way from margin to margin.

My personal experience bears this out. I have a couple of fiction texts printed in 2 half-width columns (these are bilingual short-story books, with the same story in 2 languages printed in parallel columns), and, tbh, the narrow columns degrade the storytelling aspect. It reads more like FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT FACT, like a newspaper article.

Since smartphones are narrow, they force the same narrow-column format, which will really fuck with your ability to read fiction. 🤷🏽‍♀️ Is my hypothesis.

If they found that the same problems don't happen on tablets, and don't happen with nonfiction on your phone, that would be strong evidence for the lipsypothesis here

A related possibility is that most physical books are professionally typeset with line lengths optimized for comfortable reading. Here's a wikipedia article with examples.

The bilingual storybook is a great example of what happens when the line length is dictated by other factors.

I would also be interested to see if tablet/e-reader users fared better, assuming their device's text/column/spacing settings matched the paper version read by participants.

I have a couple of online ebooks from Amazon and the pages of it get mixed up and skip and are sometimes missing. That would never happen with a physical book. I'm too tired to even deal with it.

+1 to all this.

also i wonder whether anybody had the good sense to flip the damn phone sideways 😂

You make an excellent point. I have had pretty severe adhd all my life and struggle to pick up physical books. I end up looking at my phone every few seconds anyway so I got into ebooks. This has been great, because many have a feature that lets you format the text like an article, so it breaks it down in a way that visually is a lot easier for me to follow without getting distracted.

[–] Ladylucy 13 points Edited

I have always been a voracious reader, but during the pandemic, I started reading on my iPad more and more. Now I’m addicted to the stupid thing. I notice that I reread sentences and paragraphs, because they don’t register on the first read. The most horrible consequence of my addiction is that I can’t seem to focus when I try to read a physical book, and I’m reading less. I miss reading. Breaking my addiction has been very difficult, and sometimes I think I’m a hopeless case.

I had the same problem after a few years of not reading many books and mostly reading on phone or computer. When I got back into books, I had a lot of trouble with focus and was often going back to read the same line over and over.

Trust me, you are not a hopeless case and can absolutely improve! It just takes practice. I pushed myself to get back into reading and it did take time and I would feel frustrated with myself. But then it started to click and now I devour books again like I used to!

Just be patient and keep trying, habits take time. Start with a goal of a chapter a day and work on that. Sometimes it's a matter of finding the right book to capture your attention (I had been more of a non-fiction reader in the years before but actually found going back to fiction was the key in reigniting my passion). I'd often try to leave my phone is another room too. It didn't happen quickly, and I still use my phone more than I'd like, but I've made huge progress and get better every day!

Maybe try something like 2 minute mysteries, where you have to really focus, but only for a short time (does anyone remember Encyclopedia Brown?) Or magazines about something you are super interested in. It's worth working on it to get your love of reading back.

this is why I invested heavily in paper books

I love reading but admit I also really love seeing my book collection on display. It's so esthetically pleasing and it makes me feel smart seeing how much I've read lmao

[–] mathlover 10 points Edited

There are a number of studies, that you can Google to find, consistently demonstrating diminished reading comprehension and recall for details with reading on a computer vs reading books. Reading a book, textbooks especially but also fiction, produces significantly greater reading comprehension.

Paging vs. scrolling have been found to have differential effects. Can't remember specs (👈🏽👀 !!!) but i think i've read through some papers that reported opposite effects for slower vs. faster readers—with slower readers (which almost certainly also means deeper / multi-level / big-picture / subtext-aware readers) doing better with paging and faster readers doing better with scrolling.

I knew there was a reason I prefer physical books to online editions, not just that I'm a relic from an earlier era.

U think fone mayk me stoopid? No u stupid, bleeders n servix ppl

Hey bigot didnt you get the message? Its blxxdxrx now! Get with the program!


From the time that I was a kid, reading hard-backs was a whole experience for me. I miss that. It’s not the same for me reading books on my kindle (on my iPad or iPhone).

Before my last move, I got rid of 99% of the books that I had collected over the years. Even though there were only a few that I had read more than once, there was something comforting when I sat in my reading chair in my office, surrounded by my bookcases filled with books.

This science is fascinating. I need to preserve my brain power as long as I can. I think that I will see what my local library has. Before smartphones, I would get books from the library every week. I don’t even know when I stopped going. Kindle is easy and handy and I simply stopped getting hard-backs.

A computer screen hurts your eyes. You don't really feel it, it's subconscious.

That's why people don't read web pages, instead, they scan them for information, find what they need, and go.

I thought this was pretty well accepted - it is accepted in the Human Computer Interaction / Usability world at least.

I'm guessing this is a deeper dive into that phenomenon, and focused on cell phones vs computer screens?

It's one of the reasons I have a Kindle with the "e-ink" - it really reads like a book, not like a computer. It's wonderful for reading.

I noticed this when I found myself unintentionally rereading books on my Kindle. I thought it was just me.

[+] [Deleted] 4 points