Online Versus Hardcopy: What Type Of Reader Are You?

With the rising trend of online publications, is the reading of hardcopy in recession? UGBOJA FELIX OJONUGWA sought the opinions of some readers.

The argument about what form of reading is more on the ascendance, more attractive, easier and more beneficial, has continued to dominate discussions among students, teachers and all categories of the reading public.

Before the advent of the present day technology, which has given birth to e-libraries and the Internet, what was prevalent was reading from bound copies of books or hard copies of newspapers and other publications. Going to libraries to read and research was equally what was in vogue, but this form of knowledge acquisition is becoming ‘old-fashioned’.

Obama Paul, an Abuja-based educationist acknowledges that there is a gradual shift from that era. “By the minute, there is an increasing volume of documents made available on the internet and people, without necessarily going out of their homes, can read whatever they choose to read on their laptops or smart phones”, he said.

“I prefer reading on the internet and all other forms of soft copy materials because I feel it is easy, accessible and always available”, observed Ahmed Folarin, a university student, while speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday. Folarin also believes that internet reading has come to stay and would always be his preferred form of reading.

“When you go to most libraries, you don’t even find new books to read. But that is not the case on the internet because there is an unprecedented upload of newly released books on the net which are available to whoever wants to access them at any time. Most libraries have operating hours, but the internet is unlimited and accessible at any time of the day, which makes it my preferred place of reading”, Folarin said.

Folarin is not alone, Onu Stella also prefers doing her reading from soft copies. “For me, going to libraries or buying hard copy books is no longer an option. While on the internet, I can buy the type of books I want, and read whichever is available too. I believe it also saves space and it is comfortable. On my laptop, I have over 1000 books, but there would be no space for those books in my house if they were hard copy materials”, she said.

Omoba Raphael, who also spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday, said he has never had any preference for hard copy books. “I only started reading since the advent of the internet. I have never felt more comfortable than now. Reading hard copy books has always been a challenge for me”, he said.

“It is also very convenient, light and accessible. Even books that were originally published as hard copies are now being uploaded into the internet”, he added.

However, Obera Matthew, a Masters student in Nasarawa State University has a contrary view. “It is over ambitious to say that the internet or soft copy materials have overtaken real books. Personally, I appreciate reading hard copy books and it is a form of reading that I have become used to over the years. I feel it is more original and makes more of an impact. Of course, there is a rise in the trend of reading books online but I think the main bulk of reading is still happening in real life”, he said.

Also, Adigwe Anita, a student of the University of Abuja, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that she doesn’t fancy reading soft materials because it is slow and cumbersome. With the epileptic power supply, one can’t hold onto his or her smart phone for too long without worrying about the battery running down.

“I think it is even faster reading hard copy materials because by holding a real book, I can determine how much I have read and how much is left. But that is not the same for soft copy materials”, she admitted.

She also believes that it is easier to pass on hard copy books to other readers than soft copy books which are only transferable to people who use smart phones or have internet active computers.

Whether it is internet reading or hard copy reading, it is clear that different people have their reading preferences, but it is also important to find out which has more impact and is academically more beneficial.

In getting to the depth of this, LEADERSHIP Sunday met with a university lecturer who pledged anonymity, while throwing light on the matter, especially as it concerns scholarship. According to the don, soft copy materials and the frequent use of the internet by students is beginning to have a toll on education.

“By using the internet, I agree that students may become smarter and more exposed to a variety of information, but from my personal assessment, the styles of writing being learnt on the internet is beginning to have a negative impact on how students write these days. The use of shorthand and other kinds of unscholarly writings seen on the scripts of students these days is largely as a result of their over reliance on internet. The total assimilation of the varied information on the internet is not advisable. Students must learn to be strategically selective while using the internet in order not to learn both the good and bad at the same time”, he said.

The concern about internet reading may not be limited to bad poor writing alone. Health experts have expressed concerns too. Olusola Ladipo, a medical doctor, spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday on the health implications of reading from devices for too long.

“Staring at a computer monitor for hours on end has become a part of the modern day reading practice. And inevitably, all of that can put a real strain on the eyes”, he said.

“Over use or prolonged staring at a computer sceen or a smart phone screen for a long period of time can result in eye problems known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Reading on a computer screen is more challenging to the eyes than reading from a book or a piece of paper because a computer screen adds the elements of screen contrasts, flicker, and glare”, he added.

Dr Ladipo further stated that eye problems as a result of long exposure to computer screens are more likely to occur if one already has an eye problem such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, or if one need glasses but don’t wear them or wear the wrong prescription for computer use.

Looking at the different forms of reading with their advantages and disadvantages, it behoves on individuals to choose which one they feel is more beneficial and accessible. But more importantly, according to a number of stakeholders, is the fact that reading as a culture must be pursued by all in a society such as Nigeria if it must grow more meaningfully and faster.



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