Digital Reading Network Symposium

LSA, John has sent in this report on last week’s didital reading network symposium:

Digital technologies are changing our relationship with reading. This symposium looked at these changes and their wider effects. One of the main themes was the survival or not of the traditional book. It seems that despite the many advantages e-readers offer, they are not taking over as much as predicted. Research suggests that people still find the book advantageous in a number of areas:

  • Physiological advantages – people find the book easier to handle. It seems more secure in the hand – important in the bath.
  • Aesthetic advantages – people prefer the look, smell and feel of books.
  • Cognitive advantages – books offer ‘fixidity’. You know more clearly where you are on the page and within the book. Research has found that reading comprehension of non-fiction texts is better from print than on-screen. This may be because people remember things with the help of its position on a page.

 The use of a screen for reading fiction may be counter-productive because:

  • Digital opportunities for social interaction or the collection of information may be distracting
  • Screens are associated with a higher level of stress than books
  • A screen does not offer a refuge form everyday life.

The following list suggests what kinds of reading will be associated with books and which with screen.   The higher on the list, the more likely it will be read on-screen.

 Dictionaries and encyclopaedias

Short nonfiction – scholarly articles


Short fiction

Long nonfiction


Long fiction

All this may change with the generations that have had iPads from the age of two!















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