The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled.

I actually read faster and comprehend more on screen.  I also feel like I have more control with a digital device, even if I’m one click away from Twitter.  

Replicating the physical reading experience on the digital screen shouldn’t be the goal.  Learning more is.  You’re one click away from Wikipedia upon reading on a Smartphone or tablet.  That’s more context that helps understand the bigger picture, how it all connects.  

Digital reading is just a different style of consumption that will one day become the mainstream way to learn.  It’s all about pictures anyway.  

Cheers to print!  


Pottermore Power

JK Rowling just ripped digital book services a new one, selling her Harry Potter books directly from her website.

The books appear on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but literally only for display and convenience to the customer. The book can only be purchased at the Pottermore store and made compatible for all eReading devices.

This deal would never happen in brick and mortar stores, simply because physical book space is a store’s treasure, accounting for 80% of the revenue (my guess). Even more, the deal symbolizes what’s wrong about the digital book format. There is none!

Just take at look at ALL the book format options on Pottermore. The one I don’t see and that is comparable to the music industry’s MP3 is the PDF. Seth Godin releases his books in PDFs which allows interoperability on any device including my hand. I like to print out PDFs and write notes on them.

We’ve seen direct to fan emerge the last few years starting with musicians. At Topspin, we white labelled our widgets so major artists like Lady Gaga could sell music, merchandise, and experiences directly to fans. Just last year, Louis CK made more money by selling his $5 video (again in any format) directly to his fans. Rowling is taking her brand to a whole new level, basically using digital retailers as props. Sure, Amazon and Barnes and Noble would love to take the traffic!

I can’t wait to see the sales results from the Potter effort. I didn’t even mention the audio versions of the books that are also sold on Pottermore. You get where I’m headed, this is an absolute power play move that puts control in the artists hands and the retailers as side posts.