A colleague reminds me that in my conversations with publishers and elearning types, the question or claim comes up in regards to whether print is dead. SO not. The answer why is a matter of resolution Current computer screen resolutions are around 96 dots per inch (dpi), and mobile typically maxes out at 160 dpi. Print typically starts at 300 dpi, and gets up to 1200 from even a cheap laser-printer.
I’d much rather read at 600 dpi, and regularly print out the articles I review to mark up and send my comments back to the editor. And I read real books! To be fair, on the other hand I do load papers onto my Treo, but that’s for when I want to read and am not carrying a briefcase or something else to stuff paper into. It’s that mobile affordance of convenience over bandwidth (though it’s not novels or other full books, but white papers typically in the 10-20 pages, and not when it matters).
Which isn’t to say that there isn’t a role for electronic media: currency of the information, small bits, and dynamic and interactive are very useful for learning and just content isn’t a learning solution without other things around it. Also, I check abc.net.au/news to keep up with what’s happening in the world and my second homeland, and am at Google and Wikipedia all the time. But there’s still a role for print (hey, my kids practically devour books).
The preference for print will change over time, as our technology yields higher screen resolutions and portability increases (I hear the Sony reader is pretty darn good), but until then when I need or want to comprehend text, print is still king. (Which isn’t t say that publishers don’t need to realize that they’re in the content business, and context is king.)