Liberal arts students know that reading provides limitless benefits for our minds. Along with keeping the mind sharp, challenging world views and expanding our knowledge base, reading has also been proven to increase our sense of empathy. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 showed that when people became engaged in the tribulations of a book's characters, they also developed more empathy in their day-to-day lives.
Nowadays, it's tough to think of an area where digital technology hasn't made an impact. Since e-books were popularized nearly ten years ago, it's quite clear that they are here to stay, but are they "better" than printed books? Researchers have been studying the advantages and disadvantages between printed books and e-books for years, and the ongoing debate has produced valid arguments supporting the benefits of both.
If you're planning to pursue a liberal arts education, read on to learn more about the advantages offered by both e-books and print books.
The Advantages of E-Books for Liberal Arts Students
Most students enrolled in a great books college are likely proud owners of at least one e-reader. Since liberal arts students are typically required to read and carry a lot of books, many find it much easier to carry a single device that holds all of their novels and text books as opposed to a very heavy backpack.
Aside from the obvious advantage of conveniently being able to carry your e-reader to your great books seminar, here are a few more benefits to reading digital books:
Customization: having the ability to change fonts, font size, line spacing, and margins provides readers with the flexibility and control to fully customize their reading experience. These options are especially handy for readers with vision deficiencies.
Cost Savings: many students choose to use e-readers, since e-books cost a fraction of what their hardcover or paperback counterparts typically cost. This is mainly because publishers do not have to spend money on paper and printing services.
Dictionaries: Many e-readers are equipped with a dictionary. Therefore, finding the definition of a word you’re not entirely certain about is merely a single click away.
The Advantages of Printed Books
With the advent of e-books over the last decade, printed books are surprisingly still extremely popular. Bookstores all over the world are still thriving and there are several reasons why.
First and foremost, those who read print books before bed tend to get a better night’s sleep. A recent Harvard study showed that the light emitted by most e-readers decreases the sleep hormone melatonin. Since melatonin helps control a person’s sleep and wake cycles, it is very important that we get enough, as deprivation can sometimes lead to serious health issues, like high blood pressure and brain aging. Reading print books right before bed leads to a deeper, more restful sleep.
Other studies have found that e-book readers tend to have more difficulty recalling a story’s plotline than those who read printed books. Although researchers still aren't sure why, e-books seem to affect immersion in a book. Whether you're reading for pleasure or for your humanities studies class, you’ll likely remember far more information if you are reading printed text.
Finally, one very important benefit of reading printed books is that there are no distractions hidden within their bindings. E-book readers who are using tablets risk becoming easily distracted by other applications like Facebook, Twitter or online games.
As for which format is better—that’s entirely up to the reader, since there are many advantages and disadvantages associated with both print and digital books!
Which book format would you prefer to carry to your liberal arts courses? Visit Shimer for more information about our programs, or to speak with an advisor.