Paper books vs Digital reading- which is better?

Reading is the huge part in one’s life and no doubt it is always an amazing experience. The charm of reading a book cannot compare with scrolling down the tablet or smart phone screens. Either someone is reading for pleasure or for some work or reading for learning, it is always an excellent experience.

Call me orthodox, but I prefer holding a book in my hands to read than an any electronic device whatever its name or brand. A book seems to do personal; your own copy which you can add to your personal collection and it will stay with you for as long as you want. It is in your hand and you can feel the crispiness of its paper and smell of ink specially if it is a new print. You can carry it anywhere you like without having to think about internet connectivity or battery running out, whether you are on a beach or a train.

Reading books have so many importance, such as it refreshes and relaxes the mind and also increases the mental health. The research, published in the American ORI Journal, in 1991 said that whenever someone started reading books, the mind sends a signal of calmness to the whole personality.

However, this is no way undermines the place online reading has carved for itself in the hearts of not only the young generation, but also the older people, especially those who want to keep themselves up to date with happenings around the world. The world wide web provides ample opportunities to read material that is not readily accessible otherwise. A large number of people these days read their online newspapers as they are not bound by physical availability and can read many as they want. The advent of device like laptops, smart phones, iPad and tablet have made it even easier to access whatever reading material one desires without having to sit in front of a computer.

The online reading trend picked up so fast and a few years back it seemed as if electronic devices would take over and paper would become an old fashioned thing, if not obsolete. But while many newspapers, and international magazines have ceased print editions, the paper seems to have made a comeback, especially when it comes to book reading, with more people opting to read paper books.


As the younger generation is quick in picking up technology, one expected them, especially those entering in professional life in recent years, to be more inclined towards electronic reading. But this is not always true. Though most read newspapers and articles online, many prefer hard copies when indulging in pleasure reading and prefer to buy paper books than to download or read online. Mariam Khan, a content writer, explains why this may be so; Since the shelf life of newspaper is short and their hard copy would soon become redundant, it is better to read them online. However, I prefer to read fiction in books form as I can collect them in a personal library.

But all would not agree with Khan. Sarah Hasnain, a marketing enthusiast, prefers reading online as she can do a number of things at a time, such as checking her messages etc.

Even people whose work involve a lot of digital reading prefer to read paper books when it comes to leisure reading. Afia Mansoor, a human excellence consultant, feels that reading books relaxes her. She prefers  that her children read paper books than e-books, especially at bedtime as it is less of an eye strain when compared to digital reading. The limitations with  books is that you don not have an instant access to libraries so if you need an instant reference or information, you resort to digital reading. Digital reading can quench the thirst of reading, but it ends up straining my system far too much i.e. the eyes, head and posture etc.

People in their 50’s and 60’s have some through the transition from one medium to another for reasons of their own, but their love for books does not seem to have faded. Khalid Rehman, like most people of his age, has moved from one form of reading to another. “I have always been a book worm and enjoyed reading story books as a pre-schooler,” he says. He acquired his first computer to play games , but since IBM 386 came up in 19985 “my books and magazines gathered dust on their shelves. Now  I read the latest news from all over the world on my laptop and my digital companion takes most of my time. However, I still love to browse books in my own collection and at libraries and book shops.

While one cannot draw a conclusion and people have their preferences, book lovers should not be worried as the paper books doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; not at least in the near future.

Author: Rizwana Naqvi

Nasir Taimoori

Nasir Taimoori is a freelance journalist working for different digital publications. He writes on various social, national and international issues. He also has an interest in translation.

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