The iPad Is So Mesmerizing, It Makes You Read Slower

Or, at least, these are the preliminary findings of a small test group comparing how and how quickly people read printed books and ebooks.

The research study by the Nielsen Norman Group – who, with a name like that, one assumes is composed of a bunch of guys with bow-ties and tweed jackets – found that the printed paper book lends itself to a faster reading speed than iBooks on the iPad. So, despite all the advancements in technology, the book is still better at conveying information directly to readers. Who knew, right?

Surprisingly, the iPad, which was 6.2% slower than the book, proved faster the Kindle, which itself was 10.7 slower than its dead-tree competition.

Of course, the fanboy arguments between yuppies at your local Starbucks are going to be positively vicious. Some might argue that the Kindle, with its slow responsiveness, is inevitably slower and worse off. Others might say that the test subjects probably spent a lifetime reading books, and only a short while with new tech, and thus have obvious unconscious reactions and prefrerences. Let’s just hope no-one loses it and throws their tall, half-caf, soy latte. That would be terrible and not fun to watch at all.

The downside, however, is that the study was run with only 24 participants – hardly a representative sampling.

Still, despite the small sample size, it does mean that we’re still trying to figure out how technology is changing how we read. It seems that there are arguments for tech being both an improvement and a downgrade as a medium for reading, and we don’t know quite which is true.

So maybe the question really comes down to this: which would you rather be seen reading at your local coffee shop?

Written by Navneet Alang

Navneet Alang is a technology-culture writer based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter at @navalang

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  • At least it has people reading – some that would never pick up a paper book. =)