Reading Print Produces Results: Why Reading on Paper Still Matters

In today’s digital age, where screens dominate our daily lives, the value of print media like direct mail, marketing collateral, magazines, and print advertising is often overlooked. However, research has consistently highlighted the unique benefits of reading on paper compared to reading on screens.

One study comparing digital and print reading habits found that reading from a screen is characterized by browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, and declining sustained attention. In contrast, reading in print is a more focused activity. The study reported that over 90% of subjects concentrated best when reading in print. More than 80% would prefer print for studying and pleasure.

“When we touch something, information about its texture, shape, pressure, and weight is sent to our brains in just a fraction of a second,” notes Dr. Andy Meyers, the author of the paper “Attention, Memory, and Emotion: What Makes Print So Powerful,” which cited the study. “These signals trigger interconnected neural networks, intertwining touch with emotion by activating unconscious memories and feelings.” Dr. Meyers notes that these characteristics play into what we know about brand marketing and the three basic things brand marketing needs to be effective:

  • Capturing attention
  • Stimulating the emotions
  • Influencing and impacting our memories

Print does all three.

Promoting Deep, Focused Reading

One of the reasons print media is so effective in these areas is its ability to promote deep, focused reading. Unlike screens, which offer a platter of distraction with notifications and interactive elements, print allows readers to fully immerse themselves in the content without interruptions. This immersive experience can lead not only to deeper emotional connections, but to better comprehension and retention of information.

Print media additionally offers a tactile and tangible experience lacking in digital formats. Feeling the weight of a book or magazine, combined with the physical act of turning pages and soaking in visual cues, such as the location of information on a page, can enhance the reading experience and create a stronger connection to the content. Spatial awareness of the location of information on a page also helps with content recall.

Despite the convenience and accessibility of digital media, there is a reason that print still holds a special place in our hearts and minds. Whether it’s for study, leisure, or shopping, print media offers a unique and valuable experience that cannot be replicated by screens. So, when you are planning your next marketing campaign, don’t forget about print.

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