Paper vs eReader: An Epic Battle

In one corner we have the illustrious, ever in high demand, eBook. Looking slim and sassy in its metal exterior and leather jacket, ready to deliver a best seller with lightening speed. In the other corner is the nostalgic paper book with its jacket styled dust cover, ready to be pealed off at first glance. Paper’s hefty size looms over that of the sleek eReader. Will brawn and nostalgia win over sleek and new? Let the battle begin.

Round one: eReaders will never match the smell and feel of a new book, how it feels in the hands, to be able to fan the pages and feel the breeze across your face as you inhale the smell of ink and wood. The lick of a finger to turn the page and reveal some unknown mystery, the feel of the warm earthiness of paper hugged against your chest when the book ends, the way the paper absorbs the single tear that hits the page, or how an open book laid across your face perfectly blocks the light that was left on too late at night. If you just so happen to read a book that isn’t so great and it is thrown across the room, it isn’t too badly damaged.

Round two: The eReader slides neatly into a purse or backpack without worry of rumpling or tearing. Books are purchased for a fraction of the cost, downloaded with speed and accuracy, makes reading any novel beyond simple, from anywhere in the world…as long as you have wifi or a data plan with a mobile service provider. Caution, if you don’t like the book you are reading, do not chuck the eReader across the room, simply delete the book and post a critical review on the Internet. Children’s books on an eReader have bells and whistles, literally; a single story could send a child into a technological induced trance.

Round three: consider these environmental and economic questions: When the price of the reader, the download, and the monthly data fee are added up and compared, is an eReader any more affordable than a paper book? Is it more environmentally friendly? How much energy is used to manufacture and recycle an eReader versus a book? Books remain in circulation indefinitely, eReaders expire and require replacement. According to the Sierra Club, you would have to read more than 23 books a year for the eReader to be the best match for you and the environment.

Round four: Is there a difference in the ability to learn and retain knowledge when learned from a digital text book verses a traditional paper text book? According to, there is a difference and it is noticeable. While learning from digital resources is convenient, it isn’t necessarily absorbed as well as from a paper document. Experts in fields of literacy, memory and cognition, verbal learning, neuroscience and human communication are finding that reading from a computer tends to be more superficial in the processing of information, that there is more skimming of the information rather than a deeper absorption of the material. A study of MBA students resulted in 75-80% who would not recommend eReaders for in class learning because they are too rigid for fast paced classrooms. Another study showed that reading speed was 10-30% faster from paper text versus digital text, partly because it is easier to track your location on the page. It is a proven fact, that children raised in a home with many books are more successful in school than children with no books; no matter their home country or socioeconomic status.

Instant replay: “There is physicality in reading,” says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, “maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.” We, here at children’s bookstore, encourage you to do the same, preserve the best and know when to use the new. Allow your children the privilege of unplugging for a while and become engaged in something timeless, by enjoying a paper book.

Written by: Suzanna Tolman


For an interesting read visit