The speed race, at least. Books are faster and ‘more relaxing’ to read, but iPads and Kindles are ‘more satisfying’, finds new study

E-book readers might be heralded as the future of literature but a new report shows that it’s still quicker to read the old-fashioned print version of a book.

The study, by Jakob Nielsen from the Nielsen Norman Group, gave 24 people a short story by Ernest Hemingway to read – chosen because “his work is pleasant and engaging to read, and yet not so complicated that it would be above the heads of users”.

Each participant read their story using four different devices – a printed book, a PC, an iPad and a Kindle. While on average the stories took 17 minutes and 20 seconds to read, the Kindle experience was 10.7% slower than print, and the iPad was 6.2% slower.

The readers were also asked to rate their satisfaction of the four experiences on a one-to-seven scale: the iPad was top at 5.8, followed by the Kindle at 5.7 and the printed book at 5.6. The PC came in last, with “an abysmal 3.6”.

“They disliked that the iPad was so heavy and that the Kindle featured less-crisp, grey-on-grey letters. People also disliked the lack of true pagination and preferred the way the iPad (actually, the iBook app) indicated the amount of text left in a chapter,” said Nielsen. He added that “less predictable” comments included participants saying that the book was “more relaxing” to use than the electronic devices. “And they felt uncomfortable with the PC because it reminded them of work.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds