eBooks take longer to read: a new way to save on books?

Kindle e-book readerA new study says it takes longer to read books on Apple's iPad or Amazon's Kindle than printed books.

Product development consultant Jakob Nielsen of California's Nielsen Norman Group says reading speeds dropped 6.2% on the iPad and 10.7% on the Kindle compared to print. The study couldn't tell which reader gave the faster reading experience -- the Kindle 2 or iPad -- because of "high variability" of the study data, Nielsen says.

The study asked 24 avid readers to read a short story by Ernest Hemingway on an iPad, a Kindle 2, in print and on a PC. The readers took an average of 17 minutes and 20 seconds to read the story, after which they were given comprehension tests to make sure they read the piece.

The readers were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the e-book readers, print and PC on a scale from one to seven, with seven being the highest score. The survey showed the iPad, Kindle and printed book scoring 5.8, 5.7 and 5.6, respectively. The survey participants rated reading on a PC at 3.6. Nielsen says the participants "felt uncomfortable with the PC because it reminded them of work."

The survey participants dinged iPad for its weight and the Kindle for its low screen contrast. Nielsen points out that the participants also said reading the printed book was more relaxing than using electronic devices.

A different survey by book market consultants Codex Group shows Kindle owners bought only 37% of their books in the Kindle format, while iPad owners bought 46% of their books either in Apple's iBookstore or Amazon's Kindle store. That survey took a look at the buying habits of more than 6,700 book buyers, says the Wall Street Journal. Discounts offered by book sellers offset the increased sales in the Kindle format, Codex President Peter Hildick-Smith told the newspaper.
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