Students find paper books easier to read than e-books

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Elementary, junior high and high school students who have used e-books tend to find paper books easier to read, according to a recent survey conducted by the Japan School Library Association.

The annual survey is conducted to determine reading trends among students. A total of 14,091 students enrolled at 161 schools nationwide, ranging from fourth-grade elementary school students to third-year high school students, responded to the survey conducted in June.

The survey asked some 7,000 students who said they had read an e-book, “Which do you find easier to read and understand: paper books or e-books on a smartphone or tablet?”

“Paper books” was the choice of 45.6% of elementary school students, 40.4% of junior high school students and 45% of high school students. “E-books on a smartphone or tablet,” meanwhile, was the choice of 34.4% of elementary school students, 38.5% of junior high school students and 34.9% of high school students. A plurality of respondents in each group preferred reading paper books to e-books.

Girls are generally thought to read more than boys and, according to the survey, they tended to prefer reading paper books, with 47.6% of elementary school girls, 45% of junior high school girls and 49.2% of high school girls saying they found paper gave an easier read. On the other hand, only 43.1% of elementary school boys, 34.9% of junior high school boys and 39.1% of high school boys chose paper books.

“Paper books are more suitable for reading stories and novels, which require a strong focus on the content,” said Kuniyoshi Sakai, a professor of neuroscience of language at the University of Tokyo.

The association’s release of the survey results coincides with Book Week and “autumn reading promotion month,” which both started on Thursday. Many publishers and bookstores hold events during these periods.