The birth of tablets and smartphones has seen numerous printing presses bow out over the burgeoning popularity of e-books. Despite this, does your child gravitate towards physical books? A recent study by the University of Arizona (UA) explored readers’ psychological perceptions of e-books versus paper books. What stood out — children of the digital age are more drawn to physical books than their parents.
The Attraction of Paper Books
The UA study found young people prefer clasping a physical book versus a tablet when reading. Why? It boils down to psychological ownership, which doesn’t refer to legal possessions or rights, but a “that’s mine” feeling.
Sabrina V. Helm, PhD, the lead author of the study and a UA associate professor specializing in consumer perceptions and behaviors, told Parentology, ” When introducing small children to the reading experience, using physical books, such as board books, is best as this stimulates development of fine motor skills, such as flipping through pages, and visual development.”
Helms’ take on e-books and kids, ” Screens are not for young children; I doubt that, at a young age and even later, there’s any benefit of introducing children to e-books. Reading is one of the most important passions and skills parents can instill in their children, and they cannot start early enough with exposing their babies/toddlers to physical books.”
Physical Books versus e-Books
Even if introduced to physical books, the UA study found many adults gravitate to e-books. “Interestingly, some readers use both forms of reading in parallel, first getting a book on their electronic reader and then also buying the paper version,” Helms says. “Others clearly prefer one form of reading over the other. “
Some points that emerged during the study’s physical books versus e-books debate:
- There’s a constructed sense of ownership of e-books as readers feel they don’t have full control of the products.
- E-books feel less valuable as possessions compared to physical books.
- There’s more of an emotional attachment to physical books than e-books. In fact, participants expressed nostalgia over how certain collections of physical books speak to their identity.
- Many e-book users chose the platform as a way of saving space.
- Older participants saw more advantages with e-books than younger readers. The benefits in their eyes: e-books are lightweight and allow for zooming in on text.
The bottom-line? Helm says, “Based on what we learned over the course of the study, it appears that there’s a future for both kinds of books/both forms of reading experiences. However, it seems both have their clear advantages and disadvantages the readers take into consideration when making a choice.”