What are the challenges of using physical books?

CCC

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The question:
Is it challenging to read printed material? If so, why?

Things that might make a difference:
  • The paper stock - glossy (too reflective or slippery) or matt?
  • Colours or color contrast
  • Font size
  • Use of images
  • The balance of text and white space
  • Hard and soft cover books
  • The physical size of the page (too small, too big?)
  • Is digital content (websites, ebooks) a good alternative?
But I'd like to hear your ideas, not mine. Do you prefer print? What makes print easy or hard to read?

Why I'm asking it:
A print accessibility working group in Australia is trying to find out how we can make printed material more 'accessible'.

So far, we have focused on people with visual impairment. For example, we have approached braille translators and publishers, Vision Australia, etc. We've also approached speech therapists (this has to do with language processing).

We have not yet considered the issues that come with ME/CFS (which my son has). He will not read printed material any more: is it his age or the condition?

About me: I'm here because my son has had ME/CFS since he was 15. It's thanks to the ideas of Freddd, Ahmo and others here that he is only housebound. I'm so very grateful to this site for everything it has given us.

I'm a professional editor. The group is a working group with the Institute of Professional Editors (http://iped-editors.org/). The role of editors is to help prepare content for publications, so editors need to know what they need to do.

Admins: if you think this is inappropriate, please delete.
 

Dechi

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The major problem for me would be the weight of the book itself and also having to use muscles to keep the book open. I would not be able to hold a book for long and reading with a book on my lap would give me pain in the neck after a while. Turning the pages might hurt my arms if I read for a long time as well.

It all has to do with having little muscular endurance and weakness that sets in very fast.
 

Jyoti

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For most of my pre-ME life, I read at least two or three books a week, lots of them pretty challenging. The world has changed significantly since then---I did not have Netflix as an alternative for much of that time--but I would say there is more. I doubt that it is your son's age, though that may be a contributing factor.

I just don't have the attention span I did. I don't even like watching movies often because it involves getting to know a cast of characters, a setting, a plot, etc. It is a lot of work for days when I don't feel good. So a series is more accessible: fairly predictable and familiar, so my brain doesn't have to work so hard. If it works too hard, the consequences are unpleasant whereas once they were otherwise.

And one thing I have learned here at PR is that smaller bites--breaking things into relatively tiny paragraphs is helpful. I know you can't go chopping up Tolstoy, but I do find that I feel overwhelmed when embarking on a physical book with many pages and long dense paragraphs. Having a small break in cognitive effort, even the little break that occurs between one paragraph and the next, makes a huge difference for me.

I can echo @Dechi to say that there are some physical limits as well, but I think for me, it is about the length and depth of the writing--I can always finish an article or bookmark it to finish tomorrow. Somehow that feels doable. Like the difference between walking around the block and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (from the Mexico to the Canadian border).

I think it is great that you are inquiring and I hope your get some insightful responses!
 

dave11

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My preference is to do my reading on the Amazon fire kindle. I use it to read books and newspapers. The page is backlit, and the font size is adjustable. The kindle is less physically demanding to hold than a book, and the pages are easier to turn.

The kindle is able to play TV and movies from the Amazon prime collection, or from youtube, A photo on the kindle is more vivid and detailed than the same photo on a printed page.

Overall, I rate the kindle a superior reading experience to any printed matter I can think of.

For watching movies or surfing the web, my 15 inch laptop works best for me.
 

Judee

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One thing and maybe I will think of more later is that with digital books I can do a search to find something I read before. I can't always do that with a printed book unless they have an index. (This of course, would be more for non-fiction.) Though having an actual book is easier for maps and diagrams than the digital versions.

Like Dave11, I too prefer digital now. Dust gets to me badly and if the book has picked up any smells. Also like you said about visual impairment. I used to be able to read the tiniest print, still can on some rare occasions, but age is making that harder as I go along.

Edit: And like Jyoti said, I flit from activity to activity because I just do not have a long attention span anymore, not unless I'm in an obsessive-compulsive time anyway. :rolleyes:
 

Likaloha

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The question:
Is it challenging to read printed material? If so, why?

Things that might make a difference:
  • The paper stock - glossy (too reflective or slippery) or matt?
  • Colours or color contrast
  • Font size
  • Use of images
  • The balance of text and white space
  • Hard and soft cover books
  • The physical size of the page (too small, too big?)
  • Is digital content (websites, ebooks) a good alternative?
But I'd like to hear your ideas, not mine. Do you prefer print? What makes print easy or hard to read?

Why I'm asking it:
A print accessibility working group in Australia is trying to find out how we can make printed material more 'accessible'.

So far, we have focused on people with visual impairment. For example, we have approached braille translators and publishers, Vision Australia, etc. We've also approached speech therapists (this has to do with language processing).

We have not yet considered the issues that come with ME/CFS (which my son has). He will not read printed material any more: is it his age or the condition?

About me: I'm here because my son has had ME/CFS since he was 15. It's thanks to the ideas of Freddd, Ahmo and others here that he is only housebound. I'm so very grateful to this site for everything it has given us.

I'm a professional editor. The group is a working group with the Institute of Professional Editors (http://iped-editors.org/). The role of editors is to help prepare content for publications, so editors need to know what they need to do.

Admins: if you think this is inappropriate, please delete.
I love real books! Because of the weight, I have a pillow shaped like a pyramid that holds books, my kindle, etc.
 

Sledgehammer

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Any book will do as long as the brain fog doesn't descend.
Larger text size is a must these days since I've started wearing glasses almost all of the time.
Weight and material of the books are irrelavent to me. But I do find a white background more comforting to the eyes.
 

Booble

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I'm usually good with books but I've had to stop my magazine reading for exactly the reasons you outline in your post.
Glossy paper = ocular migraines
light font on white background = F___ you, hipsters! Give us some contrast so our brains don't have to struggle (and get migraine eye auras - scintillating scotomas.)
Highly serif-ed fonts or conversely very thin and slim fonts are also tough on the brain.
 

Sledgehammer

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I'm usually good with books but I've had to stop my magazine reading for exactly the reasons you outline in your post.
Glossy paper = ocular migraines
light font on white background = F___ you, hipsters! Give us some contrast so our brains don't have to struggle (and get migraine eye auras - scintillating scotomas.)
Highly serif-ed fonts or conversely very thin and slim fonts are also tough on the brain.
Amen to that.