Monday, July 5, 2010

Some Real Numbers on E-Reading

Analyst Jakob Nielson decided to put the rubber to the road and do a real study on the differences between e-reading and paper-ink reading. Here's the result:
The iPad measured at 6.2% lower reading speed than the printed book, whereas the Kindle10.7% slower than print. However, the difference between the two devices was not statistically significant because of the data's fairly high variability.
Thus, the only fair conclusion is that we can't say for sure which device offers the fastest reading speed. In any case, the difference would be so small that it wouldn't be a reason to buy one over the other. 
Speed is something we hadn't really thought about and don't have a ready answer for why this might be. It may be familiarity; perhaps once people are as used to e-reading as they are to print, these numbers might even out.

Though if it doesn't, this difference is not insignificant: if you read several dozen books a year, this difference could add up to several less read-books over the same time. Sample size here is pretty small and this is early in the game, but this is the first real study we've seen, so we thought we'd pass it along. 


  1. I ran into a customer at the bookstore where I work who said that he uses the scroll function on his Blackberry to train himself to read faster. He said that his improved reading speed has also helped him read closed captioning when at the gym.

    I personally am a very slow reader of print and 'e' alike. So, hearing that reading eBook may slow me down further is daunting, but I don't see it stopping me from plugging away at my books whatever their format.

  2. I hadn't ever thought about this before, but it makes sense that you would read slower on a computer screen than paper I think. I am not convinced that our eyes are designed to look at computer screens (and other such screens) for too long. I could be wrong though.

  3. amcatoir-
    That's interesting about the scroll function--I do wonder how much faster I could read if I made a conscious effort to read faster.

    But our eyes weren't "designed" to read printed type either, right?

  4. Dare I suggest that slow reading is a good thing (so long as it's comfortable reading)? Isn't there a slow-reading movement somewhere?