Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Readability - The battle of the Kindle vs. Paper vs. iPad

Jakob Nielson, the guru of internet usability, published a research paper on reading and usability a few days ago.
They did some very interesting comparisions, on metrics I had been wondering about for a while (if you follow this blog, you know that I bring up e-book readers every couple of weeks). My reading style and methods have shifted drastically with the Kindle, as have that of other bookworms.You might be trying out a reader, or just want to know more about the future of reading and publishing; read on.

Jakob posits some remarkable results - after evaluating readers on the Kindle 2, PC, Kindle, and of course, printed book. The main question he attempts to answer is if ebook readers solve the long-standing issues of reading from PC monitors. The researchers decided to check only the iBook app, and no newspaper or website reading, just a story by Hemmingway.

The Usability results:
"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."
Wow! The kindle scored better than the actual book? Though user comments did say that the most comfortable to read was the actual book. I would have to agree - I do find myself hunting out the occasional paper book if it is a very large one.

This is good news for the trees, though I noticed a few improvements could be made in the study: Bigger test group size, different ebook readers, the Kindle Dx (known to have better contrast than the Kindle 2) or different aspects of reading. 
For those readers who are still reading on the PC, this should be a clear nudge to get an ebook reader. They are worth it!
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  1. I recently acquired a SONY Pocket. I'm finding that the screen is too small for me, requiring multiple "page turns" for each page. At this moment I prefer paper for long reads and digital for short.

    Thanks for the info. It is pretty cool to see the numbers. They are constantly changing.

    Miranda ~ Sweet Vernal Zephyr

  2. That is exactly how I ended up with the paper vs. ebook choices..I also have to deal with not finding all the fantasy books in India, so there is some incentive to quickly get used to reading ebooks :)

  3. New follower through the FF.

    My husband read (on Gizmodo, I think) that Amazon said that Kindle owners buy 3 times more books than those who don't have a Kindle. I'm betting it's because of the fabulous/evil one-click ordering.

  4. Hi Jennifer! I'm going to your site now to follow you back :)
    I'm totally with you on that ebook ordering one-click fulfilling your need for instant gratification!

  5. I'm glad to find someone who appreciates e-reader devices. I have discussed them on my own blog. I recently upgraded from the 2nd gen. Kindle to the Kindle 3. I love it. I loved the Kindle 2.


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