Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World by Naomi S. Baron

Words Onscreen Cover

Naomi Baron, Professor of Linguistics and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning at American University in Washington, DC., discusses reading and how it has changed in the age of digital content. 

Baron provides information from numerous studies, including some of her own, on how reading on screens has impacted our ability to read long form books and affected our comprehension and retention of what we read. In addition to looking at reading today, she also provides historical perspectives on reading and discusses how the move by government to require online books in many educational settings will impact learning at the elementary and college level. She compares acceptance rates of ebooks from various countries and discusses influences on this including literacy levels and how the tax systems in different countries have impacted the growth and acceptance of ebooks.

The publisher’s blurb (this is an Oxford University Press book) says, “Digital reading is increasingly popular. Reading onscreen has many virtues, including convenience, potential cost-savings, and the opportunity to bring free access to books and other written materials to people around the world. Yet, Baron argues, the virtues of eReading are matched with drawbacks. Users are easily distracted by other temptations on their devices, multitasking is rampant, and screens coax us to skim rather than read in-depth. What is more, if the way we read is changing, so is the way we write. In response to changing reading habits, many authors and publishers are producing shorter works and ones that don't require reflection or close reading.”

You can find this book in the Hatcher Graduate Library collection.