Battle of the Reading Formats

An iPad disguised to fit in on a book shelf. * See the bottom of this post for more.

Fitting in very nicely with our discussions on Augmented Reading, Jakob Nielsen, the legend of usability studies, has conducted a test on the relative reading experience of reading a short story (Ernest Hemingway, in case you’re interested) on the iPad, Kindle eReader, PC and printed book.

Twenty-four participants read the story in each of the different formats. On average the story took 17 minutes 20 seconds to read however both the Kindle and the iPad came in slower than the printed book by 10.7% and 6.2% respectively.

In terms of user satisfaction, readers were asked to score each of the formats on a scale of 1-7 with 7 being the highest score. The iPad, the Kindle and the printed book all recorded similar scores (5.8, 5.7 and 5.6 respectively) all of which were significantly higher than the score for the PC at 3.6.

In their comments participants said they found the printed book more relaxing than any of the eReaders and that the PC reminded them of work. I guess Carlton hadn’t seen this study when they launched their AR books for children – to be experienced on a PC.

However, it’s also good news for eReaders and suggests that they no longer offer a worse reading experience than printed books and that in the end your choice of reading format might come down to personal preference as in the case of music listening where, despite the ease of CDs and MP3s, some people still prefer to listen to music on vinyl. This is another conversation I had at PU&P: Augmented Reading where I was discussing the topic of choice and formats with the guys from in the context of trying to reach people who might not be inclined to go online to look for information. Indeed, this was one of the motivations behind the tangible format of bookleteer eBooks.

Read more about the study on Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox. Found via the Guardian.

* The Book for iPad by Longlivebooks via Design-Fetish and seen on a bookshelf at the top of this post