From The Guardian: Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
As someone who can't remember the plot of any book I read, print or E, I would have to point out that "remembering the plot" is not necessarily what readers are going for when they read. I'm a great reader (in the sense that I read a lot, not that I do it well), and I don't read for retention but for the experience as I read.
But this is an interesting study, however limited. The experience of reading electronic books might be different from reading books on paper. (The greatest difference I notice in my own reading, actually, is with audiobooks, which in many ways is closer to watching -- or listening to-- a TV show than to reading a book with your eyes. I like all the experiences, but they are different and have different benefits and problems.)
But if this is so, that e-readers are retaining less, what does it tell writers? I think I'm taking from it
that continuity is going to be more important than ever, things like
having each character have a distinctive name (not "Mark and Mary") that
can be tracked easily from paragraph to paragraph and page to page
without confusion, and clear markers (like a tagline at the top of a
chapter) of changes in scene or time. That is, while not losing sight of
the small-picture accuracy of detail, we might also want to focus on the
ways readers will construct an unbreakable chain of the story in their
minds-- what are the connectors between parts of the book?
What else? Should we be concerned about making books more "retainable" regardless of the medium of presentation?