The Decline Of Reading Speeds

People reading 10.7% slower when reading on a Kindle as opposed to a print book, and 6.2% slower when reading on an iPad, according to a study released Friday by the Nielsen Normalcy Group. The study tested 24 readers using a story by Ernest Hemingway (the report doesn’t say which story), “because his work is pleasant and engaging to read, and yet not so complicated that it would be above the heads of users.”

It also asked participants to rate thier satisfaction with the devies “on a 1–7 scale, with 7 being the best score. iPad, Kindle, and the printed book all scored fairly high at 5.8, 5.7, and 5.6, respectively. The PC, however, scored an abysmal 3.6.”

The above is taken from Electric Literature’s twitter feed, which is a link from MobyLives. And it's quite interesting. The only e-reading device I use now is the Kindle app on my Android phone (currently I'm reading The Spot by David Means), and while I'm quite happy with the experience -- especially the fact that I have something to read wherever I go -- I notice that the speed of my reading does decrease somewhat. One thing I realized is that it's next to impossible to skim boring passages, at least on such a small screen that I use (nothing boring so far in the Means collection, but if I wanted to, that would be a different story). Maybe it'd be different on a Kindle or iPad, though not by much. This, of course, is the future of reading, and I think over time people will be able to adapt to it. The transition phase will take a while, at least for people (namely adults) who have come to embrace traditional paper books. Of course, with the lack of being able to skim boring passages, it will make readers even more aware of their reading choices and do a better job of skipping the poorly written books, and force writers to write better. Or so we can only hope.