Why are long articles easier to read on paper than on a screen? The explanations I’ve heard most often involve resolution or other properties of screens. But the culprit may not be the screen per se. It may be links, notifications, and other distractions.
Obviously if you follow a link you’ll won’t finish reading your original article as quickly (or possibly ever). But even when you don’t follow any links, you have to decide not to follow each link. These decisions are not as obvious a distraction as say constructi0n noise or flickering lights, but they are still distractions and they take a toll. That is the explanation Nicholas Carr gives in his new book The Shallows. (Sorry for the distraction.)
Paper books don’t offer readers many options, and that may be their strength. If you’re aware of things you could do to interact with an e-reader, you have to decide whether to take these actions. E-readers are expected to get better screen technology as well as ads in the near future. The ads may harm reading efficiency more than increased screen resolution will help.