I didn’t want to start reading print books again, but I honestly had no choice.
My dog, Pixel, forced me to.
You see Pixel, a 35-pound clump of energy, has an obsession with shadows and reflections. At the beach or the dog park, she doesn’t chase birds or tennis balls, she chases their shadows trailing along the ground.
And at home, when I pull out my iPad to read an e-book, she starts twirling frantically in circles, jumping all over me trying to catch the reflection from the screen. It’s comical most of the time, but it’s unbelievably annoying when I’m trying to fall into a good story.
So a couple of months ago, I decided to try a print book instead. Pixel, thankfully, wasn’t impressed with the reflective qualities of paper. But to my surprise, I found that I was.
I’ve struggled in the past with the pros and cons of print versus digital, and often opted for digital, with the ability to stuff a thousand books on a single device, a built-in dictionary and the ease of being able to share passages on social networks.
But e-books can also be really annoying. On my iPad, if a text message, email or other alert comes through, I’m quickly jolted out of the book I’m engrossed in.
Even when my devices are in airplane mode, or I’m using a Kindle, I still have to contend with Pixel.
But when I touched that physical book again for the first time in years, it was like the moment you hear a nostalgic song on the radio and are instantly lost in it.
The feeling of a print book, with its rough paper and thick spine, is an absorbing and pleasurable experience — sometimes more so than reading on a device.
Some recent reports have found that the tactile feeling of paper can also create a much more immersive learning experience for readers. Why? Several scientists believe it is neurological.
A research report published earlier this year in the International Journal of Education Research found that students in school who read text on printed paper scored significantly higher in reading comprehension tests than students who read the same text in digital forms.
Meanwhile, I’m not alone in my nostalgia for paper, as my colleague David Streitfeld reports.
In addition, according to an October report by the Book Industry Study Group, which monitors the publishing industry, the sales of e-books have slowed over the past year and currently comprise about 30 percent of all books sold.
Believe it or not, it isn’t just grumpy old people and those of us with hyperactive puppies who are buying physical books. It’s teenagers, too.