iPad and Kindle Reading Speeds

iPad and Kindle Reading Speeds

A study of people reading long-form text on tablets(ˈtablət) finds higher reading speeds than in the past, but they’re still slower than reading print.

By Jakob Nielson

Many companies are betting(ˈbediNG) big that electronic(əˌlekˈtränik) book readers will be one of the main ways people read long-form text in the future. However, such products will succeed only if the reading experience is much better than the misery(ˈmiz(ə)rē) of reading from PC monitors.

Various types of tablets ought(ôt) to do better than desktop(ˈdeskˌtäp) computers because they offer higher-resolution screens and a more comfy(ˈkəmfē) reading posture(ˈpäsCHər). But are tablets as good as printed books?

To find out, we conducted a readability(ˌrēdəˈbilədē) study of people reading fiction(ˈfikSH(ə)n) on the two highest-profile tablets: Apple’s iPad (first-generation) and Amazon’s(ˈaməˌzän) Kindle 2.

In contrast(ˈkänˌtrast) to our previous study of iPad application usability(ˌyo͞ozəˈbilədē), we didn’t study a range of user interfaces. Instead, we tested only the default iBook app. Testing a single iPad reader let us more easily compare it with the Kindle, which has only one user interface.

Also, in contrast to our previous analysis(əˈnaləsəs) of Kindle content(kənˈtent ˈkäntent) usability, we didn’t consider non-linear(ˈlinēər) content, such as Web pages or newspapers. Instead, we specifically focused on testing linear, narrative(ˈnerədiv) content because it’s the primary(ˈprīˌmerē) use case for e-book readers.

Finally, we didn’t test the many issues related to choosing and installing reading software, nor did we test the reading UI’s learnability(ˌlərnəˈbilətē). We taught participants(ˌpärˈtisəpənt) how to use the readers before we started measuring(ˈmeZH(ə)riNG) their reading speeds.