When it comes to all forms of books – from novels and non-fiction to textbooks – most U of T students prefer the tactile pleasure of turning pages over scrolling onscreen.
Amanda Whittaker, a PhD candidate in history, says, “I prefer reading in print because you have that actual touch of the book – you feel it – and that connection is something you lose when you’re looking at it online.” Eighty-seven per cent digest textbooks in print, finding it easier on the eyes – as well as easier for annotating and highlighting.
Of course, not all print is equal. While there was a fairly even split when it came to magazines (43 per cent of students preferred a hard copy, while 57 per cent read them electronically), eight in 10 readers get their news online. Students enjoy the convenience, lower cost and environmentally friendly aspect of online sources – especially for shorter articles. Second-year UTM student Belal Faquiri says: “Instead of wasting paper, I can just access it online.”
This highly unscientific poll of 100 U of T students was conducted at Robarts Library in October.
What four students had to say:
2nd year, political science, UTM
I prefer to read online because it’s more accessible. If I’m on the road, I can go on my phone; if I’m at home, I can use my laptop. Instead of wasting paper, I can just access it online.
1st year, English, Victoria College
It’s a lot nicer to be able to “interact” with the text – marking it up and highlighting it – especially as an English major. If I don’t do that, it feels like there’s much more distance between me and the text I’m reading – and the messages in it. Reading in print makes it easier for me to access the wealth of information in it.
1st year, life sciences, Woodsworth College
Mostly I read my textbooks and lecture notes in print. I also read research articles, because I’m looking for a field of research to go into next year, and novels. My head hurts when I read onscreen for a long time – and we have a lot of readings.
3rd year, environmental science,
I prefer to read in print because it doesn’t hurt my eyes, and I can read on the TTC. In print, I read textbooks and course readings – stuff I have to study. Online I read things like articles or newspapers for my own pleasure. I also read scientific papers online because sometimes I have no choice or it’s convenient.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre