Get it in Print

At Curves last week, I puffed and panted alongside a seventy-nine year old woman. She’s very active, intelligent, and looks about ten years younger. We’re both avid readers and often discuss books, mine and other authors’ works, films, and TV shows. (Yes, I know. I’m one of those annoying people who talk while they exercise…but, it’s Curves. Okay?)

The woman told me she’d heard other members talking about my books and had visited the Palm Desert library. She found they had shelved one. She borrowed it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and wanted to know how she could purchase more. They aren’t stocked at B&N. She didn’t know about print on demand. Then she went on to say that because she walks several miles a day, and at a moderate pace, she had taken a liking to audible books and listened as she exercised. Almost 100% of her books were audible. After reading my book in print she recognized something interesting. She hadn’t read a print book in years, no longer had newspaper delivery, seldom read a magazine, and most everything from entertainment to news was gained from the computer, or television. She claims there is a difference, a huge difference, in reading in print.


She’d been forgetting how to spell some words. She also said she’d started to forget what certain words really meant, but seeing them in print had made her think. She had also, once upon a time, been an avid worker of crossword puzzles. At her age, she had figured this loss of word recognition must be due to age, perhaps a few too many senior moments, and something she had to accept. Now she’s convinced it’s because she’s out of the habit of seeing the words on a page.

That is definitely something to think about, as we’re all getting older. Or at least, I am. We need to maintain our reading skills. I do a lot of reading on eReader and I’ve found that I don’t sink into the story as much as I do when reading in print. I don’t retain as much information about the book. I remember the author’s name and the title better when it’s a print book, because every time I pick the book up I look at the cover. There are times I’ll be on Amazon and think that I should leave a review of a book I read two days before, and then I can’t recall the title, or I get the author name confused. I never do that when I’ve read a print book.

Humphrey 003Is that because of how the eye scans something electronic as opposed to reading it in print, on paper? Do we perhaps read electronic books faster? Or is it just that we learned to read everything on paper as youngsters? I know there are very smart young people today who learn almost everything on electronic devices, and their memory for detail is fine. I have no clue about any of this, I’m merely thinking out loud. Also, my reading experiment had nothing to do with one book being better or worse, or less engaging, because I’ve compared re-reading my favorites in print with re-reading on eReader while travelling. Yes. Yes. I’m one of those readers. There are several books I re-read for comfort almost every year.

What do you think? Could there be truth in this woman’s observation?

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14 Responses to Get it in Print

  1. such interesting observations by your Curves’ friend. They ring true for me. When I “listen” to a book, deep down I don’t feel like I’ve “read” it. Much gets by me, as my mind wanders while listening. Sometimes I easily fall asleep and miss pages! LOL. When I read (either e-reader or print) I am focused on what is in front of me. One thing I really like about my Kindle Fire is that I can highlight a word and get the meaning immediately. I can also highlight my favorite parts and they’re stored on my device for me to go to any time I want.

    However you make a perfectly valid point about not seeing the book cover every time you pick up where you’ve left off. I often can’t remember who the author is.
    Another thought provoking blog, Robena!

  2. robena grant says:

    Thanks for coming by, Lynne. And for your observations. I seldom highlight, and then I get mad when I’m trying to go back and find that one line that was so awesome it’s been stuck in my thoughts for days. 🙂 I never have that problem with a print book. But I do love my Kindle because otherwise I’d have bookshelves in every room in the house. Ha ha.

  3. Gina B. says:

    Hi Robena, and thanks for a thought-provoking post! This would be an interesting topic to research…I think there is definitely truth in this. There’s something very tactile about holding a book and opening it and physically turning pages and it probably does it make it stick in our minds more. I do love my e-reader and I think I read a lot more because of it, and I never worry about lack of shelf space. I guess there are both advantages and disadvantages to our digital world. 🙂

    • robena grant says:

      Absolutely, Gina. I’ve just begun my reading of RITA books and enjoy turning those pages. I have six novels to sink into. But as I mentioned, that pleasure could be because of how I initially learned to read a book. 🙂

  4. Sam Beck says:

    I mostly read on my Kindle, and I gotta admit, I do miss seeing the book cover. I wish the Kindle “resting” screen would default to the cover of the book you’re reading, so every time you returned to the device, you’d get another flash of cover, author and title before diving back in where you left off! Hello, Amazon…?

    • robena grant says:

      Now, that is a brilliant idea, Sam. However, I don’t think Jeff Bezos reads my blog, ah ha ha ha ha. I vote that you email him with your proposal. He can do it. He can do anything.

  5. Liz Flaherty says:

    And now I wonder. It’s never occurred to me before, but the loss of words is so upsetting. Makes me think I need to read more paper.

    • robena grant says:

      I’m sure we’re safe with eReaders, Liz. At least we’re reading the printed word, even if it comes to us electronically. The woman’s comments gave me pause though. Today I’m going to start doing crossword puzzles again. I used to love them. 🙂

  6. Judy, Judy, Judy says:

    I’m happiest reading a mix of thing – print and kindle. I don’t often listen to books because I don’t do many long car rides anymore and that is about the only place I would do that.

    • robena grant says:

      Yes, I like both print and Kindle, Judy. I do two and a half hour trips to L.A. quite often. I look forward to telling myself stories on those trips, or working through scenes, so I’ve never taken to audible. I know its wonderful though for those with visual impairment, for the elderly, and for those who travel long distances by car.

  7. Kadee McDonald says:

    I guess I’m the odd one out here because I’ve really enjoyed certain audiobooks. For me, the narrator makes all the difference and the better s/he is at accents, inflection, etc., the better the book is for me. I recently bought all of Jane Austen’s novels from Amazon and because I had, I was able to get some of the Audible versions for about one-fourth the regular price by clicking over to them from the original order, which was very cool. I don’t make a lot of long car trips, either, but I transferred one at a time to my iPod and took it with me whenever I was waiting at a doctor’s appointment or taking a lunch break at work.

    I read print books and have two Kindles, as well, but a well-done unabridged audiobook is almost like seeing the most perfect film adaptation of a classic work. I think the answer is having a good balance of all three formats. 🙂

  8. robena grant says:

    Hi Kadee, thanks for coming by. I agree audible can be extremely entertaining, and you raise some good points. As far as word recognition, and spelling, it has its downside though. But the key is definitely to have a balance of all things. 🙂

  9. Thea says:

    Insightful post. Causing me to think. I like your point about more deeply sinking in to a book when reading in print.

  10. robena grant says:

    Hi, Thea. I hope your recent trip to Australia was wonderful. 🙂
    This topic came up again at our book club this week and at least 90% of attendees admitted that they read more deeply when the book is in print. I think my Curves friend is on to something. 😉