E-books are steadily increasing in popularity, with many younger readers preferring them over traditional print books.
There are definite benefits to reading e-books versus print books including, but have you thought about the potential consequences that could come from choosing an e-book over a print book? E-books can cause eye strain, lowered reading retention, sleep deficiency, and other problems. In this article I’ll discuss seven critical reasons why reading e-books is bad for you, and why print books area better choice.
Is reading e-books bad for you?
There are some risks involved with reading e-books. E-books are known to cause issues with sleeping habits, shorten your attention span, strain your eyes, and pain in the neck and shoulders. They can also strain your wallet because you’re more likely to impulse buy an e-book than you are a print book.
Blue Light Causes Sleep Deficiency
Studies have shown that staring at the screen of an e-reader can disrupt your sleep pattern. The problem is the lighting. Staring into the light of your e-reader can cause lower levels of melatonin which makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
People who read e-books as opposed to print books before bed can take at least ten minutes longer to fall asleep after they put the book down than people who read print books. It also takes them longer to feel alert after waking in the morning than people who read print books.
It is recommended that you put away your e-reader at least four hours prior to bedtime if you want to ensure there is no effect on your sleep habits. You could also purchase an e-reader with no backlighting, like an original Kindle.
It’s Harder to Keep Your Mind on Your Reading
The rise of social media and constant internet browsing has caused people to have an ever-decreasing attention span.
If you’re reading an e-book on an iPad or other device where you can also access Facebook, or the internet then you may find it harder to pay attention to the book you’re reading because you want to check your email, or play a game on an app.
This can be especially difficult for students who are using e-books as an alternative to print books. When studying from an e-book you are far more likely to exit your book to check your email, look at a TikTok video, or browse the internet.
Because of the constant distractions, it can be much more difficult to focus your attention on what you’re reading with an e-book than it is with a print book.
You Don’t Retain as Much of the Information You Read
When you’re reading an e-book it is more likely that you’ll skim it as opposed to carefully reading it and fully absorbing the information. Studies have shown that students who read e-books remember less of the material they’ve read than students who read print books.
This problem can be even worse if the books are interactive. Students tend to pay more attention to animation or other elements within interactive e-books than they do to the information they’re supposed to be reading. The interactive elements are often more of a distraction than an aid to learning.
The same holds true for people reading for fun. Interactive elements can pull you out of the story and make it harder for you to pay full attention to what you’re reading, causing you to lose your place or miss plot elements.
Eye Strain and Headaches
The light from your e-reader can also cause problems with eye strain. Depending on which type of e-reader you have the screen can cause just as much eye strain as your phone or your computer.
Your eyes have to work harder to create images from the pixels on your screen than they do when you’re looking at words on a page. This can lead to dry, painful eyes and headaches.
You may find it easier to read an e-book if you have poor vision because you can change the font size in the text, but constantly staring at a backlit screen can cause a lot of strain on your eyes, especially since you tend to blink less when you read. If you’re reading in bed in low lighting this can make the problem worse.
Reading E-Books Can Cause Poor Posture
Because of the portability of e-readers you’re likely to spend more time using them than you do with a print book. When you read on an e-reader you tend to sit with your head bent down and your shoulders slumped, leading to poor posture.
Poor posture can cause a whole host of problems in your back and shoulders in the long term from herniated discs, to pinched nerves. It’s best to keep your feet on the floor and keep your back straight as you read. Adjust the font size to make it easier to read without hunching over your device to read.
Poor Posture Can Lead to Neck and Shoulder Pain
Poor posture from e-reading can also lead to pain in your neck and shoulders. When you’re hunched over with your head bent low to read from your e-reader it puts strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. This added stress can cause pain and stiffness if you’re in that position for too long.
It is recommended that you take frequent breaks when you’re reading. Try not to sit in the same position for longer than 20 minutes and get up and walk around or put down your e-reader and do something else every so often. You can also try some neck and shoulder stretches to alleviate any tension or stiffness.
Easy Access to Purchasing E-Books Can Cause Strain on Your Wallet
For some people, having an e-reader makes them more likely to spend money on books. The instant gratification aspect of buying a book on your e-reader or through Amazon and having it directly delivered to your library can make it hard to resist buying a new book as soon as you’re finished one, or just adding another to your to be read pile. It’s really convenient to be able to buy a new book and begin reading in seconds without having to leave your house.
E-books also tend to be a little cheaper than print books, making it even harder to resist an impulse buy. There are even self-published e-books that you can often buy for just a few dollars. But those small purchases can add up and in the end you may find that you spend more in the long run on e-books than you would have on print books.
There’s also the risk of losing your purchases in the future. If a publishing company loses the rights to a certain title, or a book goes out of print the publisher has the right to remove that e-book from your library resulting in a loss of money for you because you paid for something you no longer have access to.
Why Are Books Better Than E-Books?
There are a lot of reasons that choosing a print book is better than reading an e-book.
One is the fact that you don’t have to charge a print book. Nothing could be worse than getting to a suspenseful part of your new novel only to have your e-reader go dead before you find out what happens. You’ll never have that problem with a book.
If you read a book in good lighting they’re easier on your eyes and won’t mess up your sleep cycle. Books don’t have backlighting so there’s no blue light to produce eye strain or keep you up at night. The simple act of reading can help to relax you and get you ready for a good night’s sleep.
You also don’t have to worry about apps, social media, or web browsing that might distract you from your reading.
Books are just words on paper, you don’t have to worry about clicking from your book to an app and losing your place, or being distracted by an Instagram notification and forgetting what you just read. The lack of outside distractions will help you focus on the storyline and keep you turning the pages.
Maybe the most important aspect of reading print books versus e-books is their longevity.
Once you buy a book it’s in your collection for as long as you want it to be, providing you take care of it. You won’t have to worry about publishers removing titles from your e-reader or the possibility of new technology making your e-library obsolete. Your favorite copy of a much-loved book will likely last you a lifetime and really there’s nothing better than picking up a well-worn book and flipping through it. It’s a little like visiting with an old friend.