Skip to content

The Enduring Power of Printed Books


There are few activities as enriching as curling up with a good book. Each book is a unique repository of knowledge and creative expression, holding a writer’s thoughts, beliefs, and interests. Through reading books, we can learn practical skills for our careers, better understand our friends, families, and partners, or transport ourselves into rich and deeply engaging fictional worlds. Through the simple act of reading, we can live and relive countless different lives, all told from new perspectives, periods, or points of view.

But reading isn’t just an enjoyable pastime, it’s also good for you. Brain scans taken from MRIs of readers have shown that reading activates a series of complex neural networks in the brain and that reading can strengthen these networks to become more robust and sophisticated. As a result, readers have been shown to have greater empathy for different perspectives and greater insight into human behaviors and motivations.

Research has shown that brain activity is still heightened even after the initial reading period, especially for areas controlling responsiveness to physical sensations such as movement. Interestingly, research also shows that the benefits of reading are strongest for readers using physical printed books, as opposed to electronic or digital readers.

Compared to electronic readers, readers with a physical copy have been shown to connect more with the text, with higher levels of both comprehension and information retainment and lower levels of distraction. Some researchers have theorized that the physical sensation of reading a printed paper book, for instance, feeling the paper in your hands or smelling the binding and glue, can trigger a more substantial neural response in the brain.

In any case, readers seem to have already picked up on the benefits of printed books, with a majority consistently preferring the feel of a physical book over electronic or digital alternatives. On top of the cognitive benefits, many readers have admitted that seeing their books on a bookshelf can feel incredibly accomplished in a way that an e-reader can’t match. And, of course, you can’t forget physical books avoid the eye strain, blurred vision, and irritation associated with e-readers.

At NORPAC, we take great pride in knowing that our paper helps to create products that make a positive difference in our lives. We believe that we’re more than just a paper company. We feel a great responsibility to our employees, local and regional communities, and larger world. That’s why we invest in recycling infrastructure and implement policies to help reduce our energy, water, and resource use. We believe that through making better paper, we can build towards creating a better world. To learn more about NORPAC’s mission, please visit our website.