Monday, July 05, 2010

Another Reason E-Readers Still Cannot Beat the Book

Reading via an ebook reader is an entirely different experience than reading from the printed page. I find it hard to believe that reading from a hard copy will ever be topped by reading from a plastic box. I do, however, read a number of ebooks each year, but that is primarily because the ebooks I read are books that would not have been available to me otherwise. So, it is a case of reading them electronically or not reading them at all.

Now something I've sensed about my ebook reading has been confirmed in this PC Magazine article: it takes longer to read a page on an ebook reader than it does to read the same printed page. In my case, I find myself having to re-read whole sentences, if not paragraphs, because my mind tends to wander when I'm using my Sony Reader; I seem to be more easily distracted for some reason. Also, the Sony Reader has a bad problem with glare and I sometimes struggle to find just the right angle at which to hold the thing.
It will take you longer to read a book on an iPad or Kindle compared to the printed page, according to a recent study. Dr. Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group...The study found that reading on an electronic tablet was up to 10.7 percent slower than reading a printed book. Despite the slower reading times, Nielsen found that users preferred reading books on a tablet device compared to the paper book. The PC monitor, meanwhile, was universally hated as a reading platform among all test subjects.
The article mentions the small sample size of the study, but I suspect that 24 readers is a large enough sample to prove the point that reading via an ebook reader is still a less comfortable experience than reading from a real book. The PC Magazine writer does wonder if the age of readers has anything to do with how quickly they can read from an ebook reader, and I think that is a valid question. Perhaps, younger readers, those who have grown up reading for countless hours on PCs and other devices, might be quicker e-readers than their elders - folks like me who have been slower to adapt to the new technology.

I don't know the answer to that question. All I know is that reading from a paper and cardboard book is still a whole lot more satisfying to me than the experience I have reading from my Sony Reader - and I do not expect my opinion ever to change.


  1. I'm with you on this issue. I much prefer a hard copy book with printed pages to my Kindle. But when I am traveling I love my Kindle because I am able to take so many more books and newspapers with me than I would be able to if I had to tote them all in a bag (like I used to). I actually find that I read a book faster on my Kindle or at least I feel like I do.

  2. I pretty much only use my Sony Reader while traveling or where carrying a book is not the easiest thing to do. It stays in my car most of the time for use during those unexpected time delays that pop up every so often. I very seldom, though, read from it at home.