The E-book Skeptic

"The results suggest that print information is easier to retrieve...Differences between print and screen media are persistent and not readily explained by any of the obvious individual factors--comfort/familiarity, preference, and reading time. Other results with implications for marketing communication decisions show that brand name is poorly recalled from the screen relative to the printed page and that the nonpersuasive consumer information is better remembered than is persuasive ad information."

"The overarching hypothesis that print media would be better than screen media for delivering persuasive ad information and for delivering non-persuasive information was supported in a variety of ways...strong results imply that there is a difference between the printed page and the screen that should not be ignored, and it makes a difference, at minimum, to memory for information. Print is consistently better for recall than screen and, moreover, print is consistently associated with more attempts to retrieve information than is screen."

"The central theme to emerge from this study is that individuals have a better ability to recall after viewing materials in print rather than on screen."

from the abstract and conclusion of: Memory for Advertising and Information Content: Comparing the Printed Page to the Computer Screen
Marilyn Y. Jones Bond University, Australia
Robin Pentecost Griffith University, Australia
Gabrielle Requena EBay  Australia
Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 22(8): 623?648 (August 2005)

The research questions were examined in an experiment where identical ad and information content were viewed in either print or a screen display. The ad made claims for the effectiveness of the product (a cold medication), provided instructions, and listed active ingredients, and the health information sheet presented information regarding the common cold's definition, description, symptoms, and contagiousness.


"...the way in which knowledge was retrieved varied between the presentational formats. These differences were time related and suggest that repeated exposure and rehearsal of computer-based information is necessary to equate knowledge application with that achievable from hard copy alternatives."

"The knowledge transition was much more rapid for those learning from printed material, suggesting less interference to the process of schematization, and consequently more readily applied knowledge. Hence, this suggests there still appears to be a benefit attached to learning from paper-based rather than computer-based materials."

from the Abstract and concluding paragraph of:
CRT monitors: Do they interfere with learning?
Authors:  Garland, Kate J. and Noyes, Jan M.2
Behaviour & Information Technology; Jan/Feb2004, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p43-52, 10p


"With an increasing amount of time spent reading electronic documents, a screen-based reading behavior is emerging. The screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively, while less time is spent on in-depth reading, and concentrated reading.

Decreasing sustained attention is also noted
. Annotating and highlighting while reading is a common activity in the printed environment. However, this traditional pattern has not yet migrated to the digital environment when people read electronic documents."

From the abstract of Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years
Author: Ziming Liu
Journal: Journal of Documentation
Year: 2005  Volume: 61  Issue: 6  Page: 700 - 712


"knowledge is more readily retrieved when presented in paper format..."

From the concluding paragraph of:
VDT Versus Paper-based Text. J. M. Noyes and K. J. Garland
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 31 (2003), 411-423

(This study included a memory retrieval measure which showed that the manner in which learned information was recalled showed a significant difference between screen and paper. Advantage paper. The findings suggest that more traditional forms of performance measures, in particular reading speed, may be poor indicators of the amount and quality of information obtained from reading from VDTs in comparison to hard copy).


"...a trend in the data indicated comprehension scores were lower for those reading from a VDT..."

From the abstract of:
Comprehension and workload differences for VDT and paper-based reading
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 28, Issue 6, December 2001, Pages 367-378
Daniel K. Mayes, Valerie K. Sims, Jefferson M. Koonce

(participants were instructed to retain a list of letters in working memory while reading from either paper or a screen).


"This study demonstrated that when form and content are held equivalent, a
physical activity intervention delivered via a printed workbook was more effective than identical content delivered via the Web for increasing physical activity intentions and self-reported behavior among middle school girls. These findings suggest that even though youth may report a greater preference for interactive digital media, traditional printed formats may provide a more effective environment for learning and persuasion."

From: A Comparison of Web and Print Media for Physical Activity Promotion among Adolescent Girls. Author: MARKS, J,  Journal of Adolescent Health
ISSN: 1054-139X, Date: 2006 Volume: 39 Issue: 1 Page: 96

The study compared the effectiveness of web-based physical activity intervention with the  identical content delivered in a printed workbook among a sample of adolescent girls. Subjects were allowed two weeks of exposure to the material, and both groups reported spending about the same amount of time looking at the materials.

The results showed that:
--The print group showed significantly greater increases in intentions compared with web group.
--Physical activity increased significantly only in print group.
--The print group had better recall of the materials.
--The print group spent more time thinking about the information.
--The print group more likely to discuss the material with friends.


A study from educational psychologist Karen Murphy found that college students reading from a screen:
--found their reading less interesting
--took new ideas less seriously, and
--found new ideas less persuasive
than students reading the same material on paper.

Murphy, K. (2000). Paper pages, not Web pages. School Library Journal, 46, 44.