Print Reading Scores Over Digital Reading in Speed : Neilsen Study

If you thought the recent digital surge would make your traditional reading habits be kept at bay, think again!

A recent study by the Neilsen Norman group finds that it is upto 10-percent faster to read standard print pages than it is to read tablets and e-readers.


The Study

For the study Nielsen compared four popular e-book devices used these days. These included the PC,
the iBooks application, the Kindle 2, and iPad. The group tested 24 subjects using a short story from Hemmingway. “We picked Hemingway because his work is pleasant and engaging to read, and yet not so complicated that it would be above the heads of users. Again, this was because we wanted to focus on the people most likely to actually read long texts on tablets.” The report said. The subjects each read different short stories by Ernest Hemingway on all four platforms, and were measured for their reading speeds and story comprehension.
However, Nielsen says the printed book was the clear winner in terms of speed. Users were reading 6.2 percent slower on an iPad compared to paper, and 10.7 percent slower on the Kindle 2.

User Preference : iPad Loved, PCs Hated

After using each device, we asked users to rate their satisfaction on a 1–7 scale, with 7 being the best score.

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. Thus, 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.

Why e-readers are popular ?

Most of the complaints for reading were based on well-known criticisms, such as the iPad’s heavy 1.5-pound weight and the low-contrast nature of an e-paper display on the Kindle. Some elements should also get better, as both are presumed to be getting better displays in the future.
The eReaders are about 150 dpi which is the same a newspaper. Printed books are at about 300 dpi. When eReaders offer the same resolution as a real printed book then reading times will be faster on the eReaders. Imagine an i pad with a Retina display like the new iPhone. That would really be a beautiful screen!

Regardless of how fast people can read on an electronic device, the e-reader is becoming more popular every year. E-books raked in $313 million in 2009 growing by 176.6 percent compared to 2008, overtaking audio book sales. In 2010, e-book sales are currently growing at a rate of 217.3 percent versus 2009, according to estimates by the Association of American Publishers. The study of people reading long-form text on tablets finds higher reading speeds than in the past, but they’re still slower than reading print.

2 Responses to “Print Reading Scores Over Digital Reading in Speed : Neilsen Study”

  1. July 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Soon the digital media will replace, traditional print, i don’t remember when last time i read a daily morning news paper.

  2. Vibhooti Gupta
    July 9, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    Sure that will be the case! When all data available at a few clicks and that too handy with tablets, digital media scores. But for the art of reading novels, print media wins anyday!

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