The Brain Prefers Paper


A paper book will not demagnetize for 500 years at least.

So wrote the Corriere della Sera of 11 April commenting on the activities of the old publishing house Tallone in Alpignano (Italy).

But this is not the only quality of the paper book than the digital book!

On the Washington Post of 12 January Naomi Baron writes «Much of what students liked about reading print involved their minds. They said “it’s easier to focus”, “my spatial memory works best”, and “feel like the content sticks in my head more easily”.»

Some also acknowledged they took more time with printed text and read more carefully – not really a surprise, since digital screens encourage scrolling and hasten us along to grab the next Web site or tweet.

In the same article Naomi Baron(1) undelines «But the real nail in the coffin for one-size-fits-all electronic reading is concentration. Over 92 percent of those I surveyed said they concentrate best when reading a hard copy. The explanation is hardly rocket science. When a digital device has an Internet connection, it’s hard to resist the temptation to jump ship: I’ll just respond to that text I heard come in, check the headlines, order those boots that are on sale. Readers are human. If you dangle distractions in front of us (or if we know they are just a click or swipe away), it’s hard not to take the bait.»

Meanwhile, someone is developing the Espresso Book Machine, an American technology that has at least 10 years.

In France there is the Ireneo Project of the French Printers Federation (Le Monde, March, 20, 2015) which has the ambition to give the opportunity to re-materialize the texts that have been dematerialized to create a new service… the You Tube of the writers! It is working on the development of Espresso Book Machine.

Our world is becoming more and more virtual and many people feel the need to touch now…

(1)Naomi S. Baron is author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. She is professor of linguistics and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University.