In this life where speed and convenience seem to be paramount, is there any place for the humble paper publication? Even schools are turning more and more towards e-readers and digital textbooks and manuals, so are there any benefits to keeping the paper books?

There are obvious benefits for digital publications, particularly in the education arena – as digital manuals and text books tend to be cheaper due to the fact there production costs are minimal, they are obviously lighter (no  matter how many “pages” there are, it will never weigh more than your e-reader or laptop), however, there are disadvantages to it too.

Not all publications are available in a digital format at present, although more and more are being converted daily as the demand for instant access increases.  Another disadvantage is obvious  if you are researching something where you need multiple texts open at any time can prove difficult on an e-reader, it is also more difficult to “mark up” with any notes that you may want to make.

There have been many studies about how people read and take in information that is presented on the screen rather than in a more traditional paper format, and prior to 1992, most of these studies concluded that people read slower, and their reading was less accurately and less comprehensive if they were reading from a screen rather than from a book., however subsequent studies have produced less consistent results but they seem to suggest that many people still prefer paper (especially when reading intensively) though attitudes are changing as the technology improve and the practice of using e-readers and reading digital books for fun become more common.

There have also been studies where people report that when they are trying to locate a particular piece of information they often remember where on the text it appeared, with traditional printed media, you get the left and right page, with eight corners to act as a map for your information, something which you can’t do on an e-reader generally.

Some digital books stream live, requiring access to a working internet connection, or you may discover in a business situation that you need to check something or look up something that is in a manual or textbook that you haven’t yet downloaded and are unable to due to lack of internet connectivity.

Some sectors have very specific needs, and so have produced specialised training manuals and workbooks to assist people that have perhaps gained an internship or require specialist support in their work which don’t translate so easily into a digital medium, for example in the financial modelling sectors.

While many financial modellers use computer packages such as excel in their work, it can be frustrating switching between a digital manual or workbook and the spreadsheet they are working on and many prefer to have a “hard copy” of the manual that can be on the desk beside them for reference. Companies that specialise in the training required for the financial sectors recognise this and produce fact sheets, quick reference sheets, workbooks and manuals to reflect this need, for example, the highly praised “midnight manuals” produced by AMT.

AMT are a good example of knowing what their consumers require, offering their training courses and supportive materials in formats that work best for their clients, with courses being done either online, or face-to-face and utilizing both digital and traditional print media.