The Biological Challenges of E-Readers

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Traditionalists agree: There’s just something about good old-fashioned paper-and-glue books that e-readers can’t recreate.

According to this Scientific American article, that “something” may be the way our brain processes written words as physical objects in “a kind of physical landscape.”

Although e-readers like the Kindle and tablets like the iPad re-create pagination—sometimes complete with page numbers, headers and illustrations—the screen only displays a single virtual page: it is there and then it is gone. Instead of hiking the trail yourself, the trees, rocks and moss move past you in flashes with no trace of what came before and no way to see what lies ahead.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →