Print beats iPad and Kindle on reading speeds

July 8, 2010

A recent study by Jakob Nielson confirms that reading long-form in print finds higher reading speeds than on ebook readers. The readability study looked at the reading speed of 24 users using Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle 2, and traditional print.

Key highlights from the study:

Books are faster than tablets.
“The iPad measured at 6.2% lower reading speed than the printed book, whereas the Kindle measured at 10.7% slower than print.”

User satisfaction: iPad Loved, PCs Hated.
After using each device, users were asked to rate their satisfaction on a 1-7 scale (7 being the best). “The result: iPad, Kindle, and the printed book all scored fairly high at 5.8, 5.7, and 5.6, respectively. The PC, however, scored an abysmal 3.6.”

I found the less predictable comments interesting and concur: “Users felt that reading the printed book was more relaxing than using electronic devices. And they felt uncomfortable with the PC because it reminded them of work.”

What impact will reading speeds have on the sales of ebook readers? While people may read faster with print, there may be little impact on sales of these devices. According to the Association of American Publishers e-book sales from the “13 publishers soared 176.6% in 2009, to $169.5 million”.

As an ebook reader myself, I find that I do read slower on my Sony Reader. What has increased is the number of books that I’ve read over the past 6 months. The convenience of a portable device has encouraged me to read more on-the-go, and hopefully, the readability issues with these devices will be solved in the future.

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