A very recent study by the Neilsen Norman Group purports to show that people reading on either a Kindle or an iPad read slower (10.7% and 6.2% respectively) than reading the same physical book. To test, they asked 25 people to read a short story by Ernest Hemingway on either a PC, Kindle, iPad or in book form. Interestingly enough, even though the Kindle/iPad users read slower, they had higher, slightly, satisfaction scores then the book.

Aside from the obvious “is 25 people enough to draw any kind of conclusion from” question, others also springs to mind. Such as, everyone is used to reading from a book but not from an electronic device, was this taken into account? Could unfamiliarity with the reading media account for slightly slower speeds? In the case of the Kindle, since it takes about a second to ‘turn’ the page, I’d say someone unfamiliar with it would definitely slow down until they figure out when to actually push the ‘Next Page’ button. That would also explain why the iPad would be a bit faster. And what about getting the text set just right for reading? Everyone will be different, did the subjects have the chance to personalize their devices?

The summary report above says that all subjects were familiar with the primary skill needed: reading. Well and good, but I still say not selecting for people used to reading on an electronic device will necessarily slow people down until they figure out how to use it best for them and configure it correctly.

After all that I have to say that this study doesn’t really show that reading in non-book form is actually slower, and even 10% isn’t that much slower. I bet that if you gave those same people the chance to use their device for a week or so and then tested them you’d see something different.

I know anecdotally, in my case, my reading doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all using my Kindle. Has anyone noticed any difference in reading speed?

Filed under: Books

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