Reading from Paper or Reading from Screens. What do Consumers Prefer?

Results of the U.S. survey highlighted that 88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper

June 23, 2015 – A new survey into the preferences of consumers for printed versus digital communications has been published today by Two Sides, the global organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper.

The survey, which was commissioned by Two Sides and undertaken by international research company Toluna, sought the opinions and preferences of UK and U.S. consumers on a number of issues relating to the change from paper-based to digital media.

Results of the U.S. survey highlighted that 88% of respondents indicated that they understood, retained or used information better when they read print on paper compared to lower percentages (64% and less) when reading on electronic devices. The same trend was found for reading complicated documents with 80% indicating a clear preference for reading print on paper, and reading on screens showing a much lower preference than print at below 16% across all age groups.

The survey also revealed 81% found printed media more relaxing to read, while 62% of mobile/smartphone users (rising to 73% among the 18 – 24 year olds) were concerned about how these devices were damaging their health (eye strain, headaches, insomnia).

Overall, the survey reported that 81% of respondents preferred to read print on paper when given the choice.

"The results of this U.S. survey will be useful for all those who choose the way in which information is distributed, particularly for advertisers, marketers and educators who need to understand how information is being delivered, received, processed and retained,” explains Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. “While on-screen reading occupies an increasing amount of consumer time, people’s preferences are still for reading print on paper which they believe to be more informative, less distracting and less harmful to their health.

"Results also show that many people are concerned about the effects on learning and literacy due to the switch from printed books to digital media in our school system," Riebel said”

The Two Sides survey shows that 68% of respondents believe that books are more likely to encourage learning and the development of other skills than using screens, and that 63% of respondents worry that children are not going to learn as much without books.

While acceptance of digital media is generally stronger among younger age-groups, there is also a strong preference for print on paper existing across all ages.

The full story and U.S. survey report can be downloaded at two Sides website:

Two Sides is a global initiative by companies from the Graphic Communications Industry including Forestry, Pulp, Paper, Inks and Chemicals, Pre Press, Press, Finishing, Publishing, Printing, Envelopes and Postal Operators. Our common goal is to promote the sustainability and attractiveness of the Graphic Communications Industry and dispel common environmental misconceptions by providing users with verifiable information on why Print and Paper is an attractive, practical and sustainable communications medium.

SOURCE: Two Sides