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Old 01-13-2011, 04:47 PM   #1
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Ebook reeaders make reading too easy

A report in today's Daily Telegraph suggests that the ease of reading brought about by ereaders might well have the consequence that we retain less of what we read. Can't say I've noticed the difference and I've used ereaders for both academic and leisure reading. IN the other hand I do kind of get that if we have to put a bit of effort in to working out what is going on in a text we might well retain more of it.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:55 PM   #2
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Thanks for the link. The general premise may be correct but since textbooks are usually printed at 1200 DPI equivalent on paper with better contrast than Pearl E-ink (and very few smudges, lol) I think that concern is incorrectly placed.

The concept doesn't sound terribly different than how we pay more attention to things we pay more for. I've read about experiments showing an expensive bottle of wine or meal tastes better than the same item sold much more cheaply.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:42 PM   #3
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Very interesting!

I recently read a densely printed difficult to understand book concerning several parts of modern law viewed historically and I'm betting this articles conclusions are true.
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:15 PM   #4
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E-ink devices on the order of the Kindle 3 and the Nook probably aren't so good for reading a book that has footnotes, bibliography, and an extensive index even when they are properly formatted - meaning that the links all work as they should. I don't know how much my sense of this coincides with what he's saying, but for me this is because with print I have easy access to the entire book at once, and I am able to examine it (not just read it) in an entirely non-linear fashion. When I have to tackle a tough read like that in print, I may initially skip around in it, using the table of contents and index - or even just thumbing around in it - to get the lay of the land, and that in turn helps with both comprehension and retention.

With almost any ereader I must access the book by starting at the beginning and reading through it page by page, as nonlinear navigation is too difficult, and the page is too small. I think of this as equivalent to trying to read through a mail slot in a door while someone on the other side holds up the book and turns the pages. One good exception to this I've found (and probably mentioned in various comments in these forums) is Barnes and Nobles' PC-based Nookstudy. This gives you a less linear way to access a book, since contents, index, and notes are easily accessible and you can even view two places in the book simultaneously. With the Nookstudy on a decent-sized screen I can come close to the print experience, and when I'm reading a heavy-duty book I work back and forth between the Nook and the Nookstudy, something made easier since B&N made it possible to sync the two. The Nookstudy is actually one reason I chose the Nook in the first place, as I felt Barnes and Noble had a better grasp of the e-reading experience than most. There are some newer reading devices I've seen aimed at the academic market that probably do a pretty good job at making books accessible and improve retention as well, but right now these are pretty expensive, and the products that make them may or may not be successful.

One thing I think the Daily Telegraph article misses is that even though you do have to work harder at retaining information you get through an e-ink reader this has to be balanced against the price and portability they offer. I have recently read several books on current affairs and history, both from the library and through purchase, that I would not have gotten around to without an ereader. I will probably go back to some of these and either reread them, or at least reread portions of them, from time to time, something made easier by the fact that they're right there at my fingertips any time I need them. 9/10 of retention is after all being able to remember where you put the book!
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:28 PM   #5
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Huh... try reading Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson, 2958 screens of extremely dense storylines... requires concentration and thought but well worth it... and it allows my wrists to continue working, I have the hardback which is nearly 2 inches thick and weighs around 1.5KG... using an ereader does make it easier to read by preserving my hands and wrists from that but it sure hasn't had any effect on my ability to retain the story otherwise it would be nonsense by now (2,260 pages in and going strong)
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Old 01-14-2011, 04:13 AM   #6
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Just read the article, but am already forgetting its content because it was sooo easy to read...

It's interesting, I always assumed it was the other way round, that information which is presented in an easy-accessible way sticks better because you can concentrate on the content and don't have to focus on smudgy paper or atrocious fonts or crappy formatting. Pretty much everything I learned about typography would be obsolete then.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:28 AM   #7
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Err, I'd like to say... err, damn forgot my thread...
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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I can’t say about others but somehow I don’t seem to retain much of the current technical books on my reader. Maybe the book is too boring. I am going to take a print and see it makes any difference.
I am sure it has to do with the subject and my incapability to grasp it. But now I can blame my poor reader for it
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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I've been reading extensively since I was a small child and I still retain at LEAST the basic plot summaries, key points, and some facts from nearly every book I've read. Even reading several novels every month in 3rd grade (everything from YA to the stuff I still read today), I still manage to retain the essential information on what I read. Maybe if they were handwritten I'd be able to retain more information by being required to study each word, but then I wouldn't be going at a comfortable pace, I'd get frustrated, and I wouldn't bother reading in the first place.

My eBook reader hasn't made reading too much easier than a novel... it's allowed me to read anywhere at any time without worrying about carrying a bulky book around with me. If anything I read less than I used to... though that's probably due to the job and not being able to get by on 4 hours of sleep.

Reading anything and being able to retain the information requires skills beyond processing the visual words on the page. I don't old a fancy degree, but I doubt that printing things illegibly is going to solve more problems than it creates.
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Old 01-14-2011, 01:43 PM   #10
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Surely it is content, presentation and subject that matters, not whether it's on dead wood or electronic bits&pieces
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Old 01-14-2011, 04:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by BlueJean View Post
Just read the article, but am already forgetting its content because it was sooo easy to read...

It's interesting, I always assumed it was the other way round, that information which is presented in an easy-accessible way sticks better because you can concentrate on the content and don't have to focus on smudgy paper or atrocious fonts or crappy formatting. Pretty much everything I learned about typography would be obsolete then.
Ah, ha! Trypagphoy is rlealy a vsat ccpsiraony to pvreent the rontteein of kneldgowe so taht we can be bteter ctonellord by The Man. Tehy wnat us to tnihk we are lneniarg, wlihe ralley we are jsut wtsiang tmie. We msut csat off the tnrnyay of toapyhgpry. Jion tohegetr boetrrhs. Viva la rlivtouoen!

Last edited by CleverClothe; 01-14-2011 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:40 AM   #12
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Ah, ha! Trypagphoy is rlealy a vsat ccpsiraony to pvreent the rontteein of kneldgowe so taht we can be bteter ctonellord by The Man. Tehy wnat us to tnihk we are lneniarg, wlihe ralley we are jsut wtsiang tmie. We msut csat off the tnrnyay of toapyhgpry. Jion tohegetr boetrrhs. Viva la rlivtouoen!

eggsaxtly...i cud knot haf writn it beter
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:58 AM   #13
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You'll have to use more colours for an interesting content.

Now I'll go and find out how to implement blinking text..
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:14 PM   #14
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To me the issue isn't applicable. I've got a 98% retention with a photographic memory and it's more of a curse than a gift, I promise. Kindle or Nook or a full fledged hardback, it's all the same to me.
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Old 01-15-2011, 02:39 PM   #15
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All the same to me too. I haven't noticed any difference. I am part of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book club that meets once a month. I find no difference in my retention from the books I get for my e-reader & the ones I have to read in paper version.
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