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Reading E-Books Takes Longer Than Reading Paper Books

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the almost-as-slow-as-a-post-fireworks-news-day dept.

Books 186

Hugh Pickens writes "PC World reports on a study showing that reading from a printed book — versus an e-book on any of the three tested devices, an iPad, Kindle 2, and PC — was a faster experience to a significant degree. Readers measured on the iPad reported reading speeds, on average, of 6.2 percent slower than their print-reading counterparts, while readers on the Kindle 2 clocked in at 10.7 percent slower. Jacob Nielsen had each participant read a short story by Ernest Hemingway. Each participant was timed, then quizzed to determine their comprehension and understanding of what they just read. Nielsen also surveyed users' satisfaction levels after operating each device (or page). For user satisfaction, the iPad, Kindle, and book all scored relatively equally at 5.8, 5.7, and 5.6 on a one-to-seven ranking scale (seven representing the best experience). The PC, however, did not fare so well, getting a usability score of 3.6."

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186 comments

Incoming incessant sopssa trolling! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800204)

Sopssa is a fucking worthless troll. Remember it moderators!

Sounds like a good thing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800358)

Books should be read carefully and slowly. What's the rush?

Re:Sounds like a good thing (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801372)

Books should be read carefully and slowly. What's the rush?

Since I've already posted in this thread, I can't mod you up, Mr. A.C., but you're 100% correct.

Re:Sounds like a good thing (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801590)

No rush, but faster reading usually translates to better comprehension, as the information flow is so slow that mind easily wanders off if you cannot read it fast. Also, calmer reading experience will result from being able to read slightly faster.

Nevermind, time is precious in today's world. Then again, if you have time to read extensively, and more than just occasionally, you probably have enough spare time :)

It's obvious why (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800244)

On the iPad, they had to keep checking their email.

Not statistically significant (4, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800248)

Way to mention the results aren't actually statistically significant:

The iPad measured at 6.2% lower reading speed than the printed book, whereas the Kindle measured at 10.7% slower than print. However, the difference between the two devices was not statistically significant because of the data's fairly high variability.

(Emph. mine)

Re:Not statistically significant (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800310)

Way to mention that some of the results are actually statistically significant:

The difference between the two devices was not statistically significant.

(Emph. mine)

Re:Not statistically significant (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801806)

Hey, give the man a break! He probably read tfa on his PC.

Re:Not statistically significant (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800414)

Way to mention the results aren't actually statistically significant:

You know why the data was highly variable?
"A 24-user study showed that..."

24 users is less a study, and more a reason to declare "further research needed"

Re:Not statistically significant (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800492)

Also I suspect a good portion of those people were old and probably wasted a lot of time saying, "Where's the damn next button on this newfangled gadget?"

I don't notice any difference in reading speed whether I'm using a book or e-book. But then I grew up reading text on computers (like Zork and online forums), so it feels perfectly natural to me. Plus the e-book is a lot lighter and less muscle-straining than a 600-page tome.

Re:Not statistically significant (3, Insightful)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800548)

Also I suspect a good portion of those people were old and probably wasted a lot of time saying, "Where's the damn next button on this newfangled gadget?"

Wow, there's a bit of bigotry snatched out of thin air. Unfortunately one that is not at all uncommon on /.

Re:Not statistically significant (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801194)

Uhhh - age does play a factor. I'm over 50, and there are some things that I don't like messing with, because the buttons are to small, or the interface isn't what I'm used to, or I just don't like the design. I'm aging, and I have my ways. I'm not changing because a bunch of 30 or 40 year old punk kids decide that an iPod should look like this, or an Android should behave like that. Given a choice between a printed realtree book, and electronic versions, I'll take the treebark, thank you. When I can't get the realtree, then I want the electronic version on my PC, with a nice wide screen, and what some people would call "large print". No little bitty 3 inch screens, thank you very much, and certainly no keypad where my index finger covers half a dozen keys.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801282)

Age may well play a role for some people. I wasn't commenting on that. I was commenting on the assumption that that was what was happening, with no evidence at all to indicate that that was the case. That and the tone of the comment combined to look like bigotry to me - and there is a lot of "ageism" on /.

Re:Not statistically significant (2, Informative)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801684)

It wasn't an assumption; the OP clearly prefaced their statement with "I suspect," a phrase which underscores their own uncertainty.

Besides, admit it, most people who are over 40 take a little longer to adapt to using computers or to figure out some new-fangled program, video game, or cell phone. It's not that they're stupid or senile, they're just not used to electronics.

My Father, who recently turned 50, used to be a police officer. He used to have to write his police reports using ink and paper, and it wasn't until he was nearly 35 that they started using computers at the precinct to type reports. You can't just do something one way for 35 years and then turn around tomorrow and become an expert in doing it an entirely different way.

One of my industrial psychology professors, Dr. Truxillo, does a fair amount of research on the differences in ability between younger and older workers, and has some interesting ideas on the topic. I can't recall them with any real detail right now, but basically it amounts to the notion that younger and older workers generally have different strengths and weaknesses, but both have the same potential in all areas and both are still useful.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801782)

My Father, who recently turned 50, used to be a police officer. He used to have to write his police reports using ink and paper, and it wasn't until he was nearly 35 that they started using computers at the precinct to type reports. You can't just do something one way for 35 years...

So he was writing police reports since the day he was born?

Re:Not statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801846)

If you want wisdom you get old people to do things, if you want wit you get young people to do things.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

Sudheer_BV (1049540) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800614)

I recall the pain in my hands when I was reading War And Peace dead tree version.

I read faster on my PC.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800734)

I don't notice any difference in reading speed whether I'm using a book or e-book.

A factor of two in speed is about the minimum perceptible, so your experience is fully consistent with these data.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801112)

I've never timed myself. I'm a pretty fast reader - I've gone through 800 page novels in less than a week, when I work full time and have to meet other real life commitments. Buy a book on Monday, and surprise myself that it's finished on Thursday or Friday. Other times, I've read similar books in a weekend.

Like yourself, I haven't noticed that reading speed is affected by the media. Two weeks ago, I started a 1500 page novel on the PC, and it was finished in 6 days. I had to work 40 hours, but didn't have any other pressing commitments, so I got through it fairly quickly.

A scientific study might be interesting - but age has to play a factor, as well as literacy level. Did they choose their participants based on enrollment in a speed reading course, or what? Just 24 random people off the street? 24 college students, maybe, and it was "presumed" that they were all equally literate?

More study needed, for sure.

Re:Not statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801200)

Wow, if you think 600 pages is "muscle-straining" you need to go get some exercise.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801114)

24 users is less a study, and more a reason to declare "further research needed"

This is true. It falls 1 short of the required 25 samples to satisfy central limits on the normal distribution.

And even that falls far short of a useful comparison and analysis. We can't draw any conclusions other than our own anecdotal impressions. From my experience, well-presented text on paper is vastly preferable to the "best" digital impressions. But I am perfectly happy to admit that that subjective viewpoint may not be shared by others.

I am not in principle against e-books, but where I make a distinction is when a text is likely to be subjected to re-reading. For instance (and yes, I am taking the piss here), a business management text isn't worth committing to print, since its content will have no value beyond three months after publication (if then).

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

elventear (868128) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801302)

24 users is less a study, and more a reason to declare "further research needed"

With that outcome sounds like the research is ripe for publication then.

(Emph. mine)

Re:Not statistically significant (5, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800570)

With a sample size lower than what is even acceptable for a undergraduate students assignment and too many ignored variables such as users already being used to reading paper books and not digital ones, this article really isn't worth the paper its digitally printed upon.

Re:Not statistically significant (2, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800626)

Or the chance some people had a hard time with the Hemingway.

At the very least, all 24 should have tried each method, changing the stories each time.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801338)

Or the chance some people had a hard time with the Hemingway.

Hemingway hard to read? Sarcasm, I hope.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801904)

Well, not necessarily hard as in complex, but hard as in boring.

I find Dickens hard to get through, for example, cause he's drier than dust (and as palatable). I'd find myself having to reread pages because by the end of the page I'd've forgotten the top half.

Re:Not statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800628)

If I had mod points, I'd mod you to the roof.

Sample size, along with getting users accustomed to the medium, is a huge challenge.

But the author got enough data to make a study that's getting significant attention. There's a grant coming! Great things in your future!

Re:Not statistically significant (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801506)

ignored variables such as users already being used to reading paper books and not digital ones

But that's the majority of the world, so if you want to know how switching to digital will affect most people, this is OK.

I've probably read 9:1 digital:print in the past decade, but still prefer a paper book for works of significant length.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801682)

Same here. It's just vastly easier for longer reading, and for pretty much anything other than short one time read.

Despite being a web developer, and constantly on cutting edge, i also find paper a way better tool for making notes, sketching designs etc. than anything electronic. People think i'm a bit weird like that, when i'm trying to solve a harder design dilemna i take a piece of paper and start writing, drawing lines etc. but it actually helps me to better visualize the dilemna, and thus better see the patterns for simpliest solution.

Re:Not statistically significant (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801992)

when i'm trying to solve a harder design dilemna i take a piece of paper and start writing, drawing lines etc.

Yup. I have a large-format sketchpad I use for user interface design work. Paper and kneeded eraser are just far faster than the available computer tools.

I also carry a graph-paper Moleskine or lab notebook for field work. I switch from notes to diagrams quickly and easily, at very high resolution. The netbook stays in the bag for most meetings.

If OCR actually worked I might be tempted to use a tablet, but for now I'm safe from that temptation. Maybe the resolution will improve about the time OCR is figured out.

Re:Not statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800848)

Damn the statistics, there are enough tidbits of information here for people to use it to bend to their own worldview as they see fit.

(slamming staff to ground)

"Slashdot Pontification Force, Activate!!!!"

you cannot jump 30-pages (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800270)

Yep, it is true, if some paragraph is boring, you cannot so easy jump over 20-30 pages. And of course, you are distracted by all these buttons, user interface, how to hold the device, and many many other little things...

Re:you cannot jump 30-pages (5, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800324)

Novelty, too I guess. Most people have used paper books their whole lives. I'd be interested to see the tests in 20 years of kids who have grown up with ebooks as their primary source of reading material and how they get on when they're handed a real book.

Re:you cannot jump 30-pages (2, Insightful)

bigjarom (950328) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801654)

I am a voracious reader. I've been using a program called Palm Reader on various Palm OS devices for 5 or 6 years, for nearly all my reading needs. I can read books on my PDA way faster than a paper book, probably because I'm so accustomed to it. The only thing it's not good for is heavily annotated books like War and Peace (which I am reading right now in paper form) with all the French-English translations in the footnotes.
Reading on a small hand-held device (currently a Palm 755p) is far superior most of the time. It provides its own illumination for night reading, it's smaller and lighter than a book, and I can store hundreds (or more) of books on it at once. The only people it would be bad for are those with poor eyesight.
As for where I get all my ebooks, that's a discussion for a different thread.

Re:you cannot jump 30-pages (0, Offtopic)

therealobsideus (1610557) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800366)

Sometimes I may skip a paragraph, but I always go up and read it again. You never know when that boring, seemingly insignificant part of a story may become pretty critical later on. I've never jumped 20-30 pages :)

Re:you cannot jump 30-pages (0)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801532)

Why the hell was this marked off topic? It is addressing a previous post's remarks and is relevant to the discussion.

No shit, sometimes fucking moderators are just assholes.

For fucks sake moderators, go back through the thread if you don't think something is on topic. You never know what the comment is about. Or what, are you just proving the statistics of this story by the way you moderate? You do not comprehend as well when reading electronic versus paper material.

If your going to mark a lower post as off topic assholes, make sure you mark the leading post the reply to as off topic also. Fucking idiots.

Hemmingway Boring? How dare you! ZZZ-zzz-ZZZ-zzz.. (0, Offtopic)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800454)

... Random example: Islands in the Sun, ch. 9. BORING! Too much dependence on dialog (typical Hemmingway). And he could have at least picked a better name for his main character!

When the sun woke Thomas Hudson he went down to the beach and swam and then had breakfast before the rest of them were up. Eddy said he did not think they would have much of a breeze and it might even be a calm. He said the gear was all in good shape on the boat and he had a boy out after bait.

Thomas Hudson asked him if he had tested the lines since the boat had not been out for big fish in quite a while and Eddy said he had tested them and taken off all the line that was rotten. He said they were going to have to get some more thirty-six thread line and plenty more twenty-four thread and Thomas Hudson promised to send for it. In the meantime Eddy had spliced enough good line on to replace the discarded line and both the big reels had all they would hold. He had cleaned and sharpened all of the big hooks and checked all the leaders and swivels.

"When did you do all this?"

"I sat up last night splicing," he said. "Then I worked on that new cast net. Couldn't sleep with the goddam moon."

"Does a full moon bother you for sleeping too?"

"Gives me hell," Eddy said.

"Eddy do you think it's really bad for you to sleep with it shining on you?"

"That's what the old heads say. I don't know. Always makes me feel bad, anyway."

"Do you think we'll do anything today?"

"Never know. There's some awfully big fish out there this time of year. Are you going clean up to the Isaacs?"

"The boys want to go up there."

"We ought to get going right after breakfast. I'm not figuring to cook lunch. I've got conch salad and potato salad and beer and I'll make up sandwiches. We've got a ham that came over on the last run-boat and I've got some lettuce and we can use mustard and that chutney. Mustard doesn't hurt kids, does it?"

"I don't think so."

"We never had it when I was a kid. Say, that chutney's good, too. You ever eat it in a sandwich?"

"No."

"I didn't know what it was for when you first got it and I tried some of it like a marmalade. It's damned good. I use it sometimes on grits."

"Why don't we have some curry pretty soon?"

"I got a leg of lamb coming on the next run-boat. Wait till we eat off it a couple of times--once, I guess, with that young Tom and Andrew eating, and we'll have a curry."

"Fine. What do you want me to do about getting off?"

"Nothing, Tom. Just get them going. Want me to make you a drink? You aren't working today. Might as well have one."

"I'll drink a cold bottle of beer with breakfast."

"Good thing. Cut that damn phlegm."

"Is Joe here yet?"

"No. He went after the boy that's gone for bait. I'll put your breakfast out there."

"No, let me take her."

"No, go on in and drink a cold bottle of beer and read the paper. I've got her all ironed out for you. I'll bring the breakfast."

Breakfast was corned-beef hash, browned, with an egg on top of it, coffee and milk, and a big glass of chilled grapefruit juice. Thomas Hudson skipped the coffee and the grapefruit juice and drank a very cold bottle of Heineken beer with the hash.

"I'll keep the juice cold for the kids," Eddy said. "That's some beer, isn't it, for early in the morning?"

"It would be pretty easy to be a rummy, wouldn't it, Eddy?"

"You'd never make a rummy. You like to work too well."

"Drinking in the morning feels awfully good though."

"You're damned right it does. Especially something like that beer."

"I couldn't do it and work though."

"Well, you're not working today so what's the goddam problem? Drink that one up and I'll get you another."

"No. One's all I want."

They got off by nine o'clock and went down the channel with the tide. Thomas Hudson was steering on the topside and he headed her out over the bar and ran straight out toward where he could see the dark line of the Gulf. The water was so calm and so very clear that they could see the bottom clearly in thirty fathoms, see that sea fans bent with the tide current, still see it, but cloudily, at forty fathoms, and then it deepened and was dark and they were out in the dark water of the stream.

"It looks like a wonderful day, papa," Tom said. "It looks like a good stream."

"It's a fine stream. Look at the little curl of the whirlpools along the edge."

"Isn't this the same water that we have in on the beach in front of the house?"

"Sometimes, Tommy. Now the tide is out and it has pushed the Stream out from in front of the mouth of the harbor. See in there along the beach, where there is no opening, it's made in again."

"It looks almost as blue in there as it is out here. What makes the Gulf water so blue?"

"It's a different density of water. It's an altogether different type of water."

"The depth makes it darker, though."

"Only when you look down into it. Sometimes the plankton in it make it almost purple."

"Why?"

"Because they add red to the blue I think. I know they call the Red Sea red because the plankton make it look really red. They have terrific concentrations of them there."

"Did you like the Red Sea, papa?"

"I loved it. It was awfully hot but you never saw such wonderful reefs and it's full of fish on the two monsoons. You'd like it, Tom."

"I read two books about it in French by Mr. de Montfried. They were very good. He was in the slave trade. Not the white slave trade. The olden days slave trade. He's a friend of Mr. Davis."

"I know," Thomas Hudson said. "I know him, too."

"Mr. Davis told me that Mr. de Montfried came back to Paris one time from the slave trade and when he would take a lady out anywhere he would have the taxi driver put down the top of the taxi and he would steer the taxi driver wherever he wanted to go by the stars. Say Mr. de Montfried was on the Pont de la Concorde and he wanted to go to the Madeleine. He wouldn't just tell the taxi driver to take him to the Madeleine, or to cross the Place de la Concorde and go up the Rue Royale the way you or I would do it, papa. Mr. de Montfried would steer himself to the Madeleine by the North Star."

"I never heard that one about Mr. de Montfried," Thomas Hudson said. "I heard quite a lot of others."

"It's quite a complicated way to get around in Paris, don't you think? Mr. Davis wanted to go into the slave trade at one time with Mr. de Montfried but there was some sort of a hitch. I don't remember what it was. Yes, now I do. Mr. de Montfried had left the slave trade and gone into the opium trade. That was it."

"Didn't Mr. Davis want to go into the opium trade?"

"No. I remember he said he thought he'd leave the opium trade to Mr. De Quincey and Mr. Cocteau. He said they'd done so well in it that he didn't think it was right to disturb them. That was one of those remarks that I couldn't understand. Papa, you explain anything to me that I ask but it used to slow the conversation up so much to be asking all the time that I would just remember certain things I didn't understand to ask about sometime and that's one of those things."

"You must have quite a backlog of those things."

"I've got hundreds of them. Possibly thousands. But I get rid of a lot of them every year by getting to understand them myself. But some I know I'll have to ask you about. At school this year I may write a list of them for an English composition. I've got some awfully good ones for a composition of that sort."

"Do you like school, Tom?"

"It's just one of those things you have to take. I don't think anyone likes school, do they, that has ever done anything else?"

"I don't know. I hated it."

"Didn't you like art school either?"

"No. I liked to learn to draw but I didn't like the school part."

"I don't really mind it," Tom said. "But after you've spent your life with men like Mr. Joyce and Mr. Pascin and you and Mr. Davis, being with boys seems sort of juvenile."

"You have fun, though, don't you?"

"Oh yes. I have lots of friends and I like any of the sports that aren't built around throwing or catching balls and I study quite hard. But papa, it isn't much of a life."

"That was the way I always felt about it," Thomas Hudson said. "You liven it up as much as you can, though."

"I do. I liven it up all I can and still stay in it. Sometimes it's a pretty close thing, though."

Thomas Hudson looked astern where the wake ran crisply in the calm sea and the two baits from the outriggers were dragging; dipping and leaping in the curl of the waves the wake raised as it cut the calm. David and Andrew sat in the two fishing chairs holding rods. Thomas Hudson saw their backs. Their faces were astern watching the baits. He looked ahead at some bonito jumping, not working and threshing the water, but coming up out and dropping back into the water singly and in pairs, making hardly any disturbance of the surface as they rose, shining in the sun, and returning, heavy heads down, to enter the water almost without splash.

"Fish!" Thomas Hudson heard young Tom shout. "Fish! Fish! There he comes up. Behind you, Dave. Watch him!"

Thomas Hudson saw a huge boil in the water but could not see the fish. David had the rod butt in the gimble and was looking up at the clothespin on the outrigger line. Thomas Hudson saw the line fall from the outrigger in a long, slow loop that tightened as it hit the water and now was racing out at a slant, slicing the water as it went.

"Hit him, Dave. Hit him hard," Eddy called from the companionway.

"Hit him, Dave. For God's sake hit him," Andrew begged.

"Shut up," David said. "I'm handling him." He hadn't struck yet and the line was steadily going out at that angle, the rod bowed, the boy holding back on it as the line moved out. Thomas Hudson had throttled the motors down so they were barely turning over.

"Oh for God's sake, hit him," Andrew pleaded. "Or let me hit him."

David just held back on the rod and watched the line moving out at the same steady angle. He had loosened the drag.

"He's a broadbill, papa," he said without looking up. "I saw his sword when he took it."

"Honest to God?" Andrew asked. "Oh boy."

"I think you ought to hit him now," Roger was standing with the boy now. He had the back out of the chair and he was buckling the harness on the reel. "Hit him now, Dave, and really hit him."

"Do you think he's had it long enough?" David asked. "You don't think he's just carrying it in his mouth and swimming with it?"

"I think you better hit him before he spits it out."

David braced his feet, tightened the drag well down with his right hand, and struck back hard against the great weight. He struck again and again bending the rod like a bow. The line moved out steadily. He had made no impression on the fish.

"Hit him again, Dave," Roger said. "Really put it into him."

David struck again with all his strength and the line started zizzing out, the rod bent so that he could hardly hold it.

"Oh God," he said devoutly. "I think I've got it into him."

"Ease up on your drag," Roger told him. "Turn with him, Tom, and watch the line."

"Turn with him and watch the line," Thomas Hudson repeated. "You all right, Dave?"

"I'm wonderful, papa," Dave said. "Oh God, if I can catch this fish."

Re:you cannot jump 30-pages (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800970)

You can't? The only eInk device that I'm familiar with is my iLiad, which has a flip switch for turning the pages. If you flick it, you turn one page, if you hold it, you turn 5. Turning 30 is relatively easy. There's also a progress bar along the bottom, and you can just tap in the middle of it to jump a significant distance. It's not as fast as jumping to a specific page in a book, but it's pretty fast. The user interface on the iLiad is pretty poor, so I'd be surprised if it wasn't faster on other devices.

Flawed Study? (4, Interesting)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800352)

Maybe I'm just being obtuse here, but it wasn't clear to me if they read the same story on all of the platforms, or just had each person read the story once and the testers chose the platform for them.

This is pretty significant. If you're going to have me read the same 30 pages over and over again, I may slow down due to boredom, or I may skim the pages and the progression appears to have increased.

Re:Flawed Study? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800466)

I agree. I think that the reader should be required to different read works of similar length and difficulty on each device. The reader should also have a break in between each reading. The order that the devices are being used in, and the piece being read on each device could be randomized. They should also be required to answer questions about the work to determine how well they understood what they read.

Re:Flawed Study? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800830)

I agree. I think that the reader should be required to different read works of similar length and difficulty on each device. The reader should also have a break in between each reading. The order that the devices are being used in, and the piece being read on each device could be randomized. They should also be required to answer questions about the work to determine how well they understood what they read.

The humorous thing is that nearly all of these points were addressed in the second link of the summary. I guess we know where you'd rank on the reading comprehension part of the test.

Re:Flawed Study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801184)

Are you suggesting that the study was to have them each read the same story on the Kindle2, iPad, then paper, in that order??? No wonder they got faster with better retention as the study went on. LOL

I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800368)

The e-books readers will never understand the precision offered by the keyboard-mouse combination. I find reading on the e-books without the keyboard and mouse to be like a cliff notes or graphic novel version.

Re:I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801024)

The e-books readers will never understand the precision offered by the keyboard-mouse combination. I find reading on the e-books without the keyboard and mouse to be like a cliff notes or graphic novel version.

Yes, because the keyboard and mouse have an effect on the actual content of the book. /SARCASM.

This sounds to like an attempt to justify reading books on your PC rather than an actual reason.

I don't know of anyone who reads e-books on a PC unless if they have no other choice because they are supplied on their work PC only.

Re:I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801082)

whooooooosh

Re:I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801166)

It sounded to me like a parody of the PC gamer attitude towards console gamers. Take a chill pill.

Re:I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801176)

The e-books readers will never understand the precision offered by the keyboard-mouse combination. I find reading on the e-books without the keyboard and mouse to be like a cliff notes or graphic novel version.

Yes, because the keyboard and mouse have an effect on the actual content of the book. /SARCASM.

I think he was making a joke about typical PC gamer anti-console arguments...

Re:I hope that e-books don't doom PC reading (2, Funny)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801964)

The e-books readers will never understand the precision offered by the keyboard-mouse combination.

Not to mention the ability of the latter to provide for a quick 180 and a double-tap when a particularly nasty plot twist sneaks up on the unsuspecting reader.

even if this is true (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800384)

Even if this is true (and I'm not sure it is), just the fact that I can have my Sony Reader with me at almost all times means that I get more reading time in than I would if lugging paper books around. And for the record, I still do read a fair number of paper books. The eReader supplements my paper book reading experience -- it didn't replace it, like so many people whom I know seem to believe happens (not surprisingly, those same people tend to view nearly everything around them in the same black-and-white terms).

Re:even if this is true (1)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800654)

Well said. Between my nook, iBooks, and Kindle apps, I think I have around 30 books on my iPad, not to mention the PDFs I carry around in GoodReader.

Re:even if this is true (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801974)

This. Frankly, it doesn't matter which is faster to read at all - it only matters which is more convenient. That is an awfully subjective metric, of course (and I know many people who don't like e-readers - to each their own), but it's also the only meaningful one.

what score did dead trees get? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800394)

I like to read on my handheld as much as real books :)
but there are times when my n900 outshines literally a real book - night time curled up in bed with the lights off.

Re:what score did dead trees get? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800446)

I used to do it with my dead tree books during the long nights, but my doctor convinced me that my eyes are too precious and i need to keep them in good shape :).

Newbies (5, Insightful)

Tx (96709) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800400)

Not being frivolous, but as far as I can tell, the users were new to reading ebooks, but presumably not so with paper books. If you were to turn the study round, and test people who were familiar with ebooks but not with paper, you might get a very different result, especially on the general satisfaction. On the rare occasions when I read a paper book these days, I find it very irritating that I can't flip pages one-handed, larger books are actually hard to hold one-handed, I have to remember to place a bookmark and be careful not to lose it, because the damn thing doesn't automatically open back up to the last page I read, etc etc. Of course paper-book people are so used to these limitations, they don't actually notice them.

Re:Newbies (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800472)

Good point - combined with the FP's concern about the low number of people involved in the study (n=24) and the various devices, we basically don't know anything new. If you have a 10% difference in a small, self selected sample then one should be very, very careful not to extrapolate this data much.

My take home message: It's all about the same. Do what you like. Get off my lawn.

How do you measure it? (3, Interesting)

mseeger (40923) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800412)

I think this depends how you measure it. During my last vacations i have read about 20 books all stored in my ebook reader. If i would have taken the time to buy/fetch new books every time from a bookstore, i would have read (on average) much slower. Having an automated bookmark for every book also saved a lot of time. So, it depends on the way of measuring :-).... as usual.

CU, Martin

As someone working in the paper book industry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800438)

You should take these findings to heart and seriously consider not using e-readers.

A few people will see this for what it is. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800464)

Letting tech people (PC World, Apple, Kindle, et al) run tests like this to measure a tech-type property (speed, efficiency) is letting the tech people dictate the nature of the questions being asked about an "item", in this case 'are ebooks better than paper books". The outcome is irrelevant; the debate is being guided by one participent only. It's as if the hard sciences are telling the liberal arts what you are allowed to enjoy based on the only tests accepted: Their tests. The paper book people appear to be sitting on their haunches. They're probably just disorganised, but that has no affect on the non-technological benefits of paper books to a reader. Benefits that might be very personnel and quite unquantifiable.

By the way, I'm quite technological, not a 'phobe at all. But I'm smart enough to know that when tech companies say 'this is better' what they usually mean is 'empty my warehouse'.

Re:A few people will see this for what it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801444)

but in this case, isn't pc-world saying "printed books are better." unless of course you're trying to say that there's some devilish game of reverse-psychology. inconceivable!

Depends on purpose (2, Interesting)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800478)

Electronic books can be indexed and searched (on a PC or iPad you can also copy/paste sometimes (depends on the source). If I were to read a novel, I would prefer it to be a hard-copy. But since 99% of books I read are technical I prefer being able to search for related information and for research I prefer my PC (if nothing else I can always save screenshots in OneNote). Though I've never used a kindle, so I don't know if/how good they can search?

Re:Depends on purpose (2, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800914)

You know, it depends on how well you know the reference and what you're looking for. I can find certain sections of commonly referenced code* far faster with a 1000 page book than I can look it up in e-form, since it takes far longer to grab the book and flip to (say) page 634 than to find and open the PDF**. For stuff I need to find, but I don't reference often, the computer can be faster since I can do a search. Oddly, things I almost never reference are usually faster in the paper version because I can "scan" the book faster and find the section I need (pdf readers really need to get better at flipping pages). This is particularly true since some searches are very hard to properly parse. A search for "exit stair width," for example, will find hundreds of hits as individual words, none as a phrase. What I would need to be able to search for is "width" in sections about "stairs" in the chapter(s) which cover "egress". None of the readers I have can do that, but I know that I can flip through about 40 pages scanning and find the one or two sections I need in less than a minute.

*the International Building Code to be specific

**I happen to use close to a hundred references in "daily" work, so shortcuts are pretty much useless - they still have to be filed somewhere. Even if it file is only three clicks and a keystroke away, I can get my answer faster than a 20-30MB PDF can open in any reader I've tried. Now, if someone can find a way to accelerate opening and - especially - thumnail indexing and page flipping, including with large images (12,000x16,000 bitmaps for arch. prints), I'm all ears.

Re:Depends on purpose (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801612)

Personal reading for enjoyment, I use nothing but hard copy books. The argument that you can take 30 books on an electronic reader just doesn't wash with me. This reading is for enjoyment, and I would rather savor my joy one book at a time. If I am not reading it, it is because the story has lost my interest and I no longer want that book with me no matter what the source.

Technical books, I prefer electronic. This is reference material, and I am a firm believer that there is never enough reference material. Being able to carry 30 books is an asset and improves job performance.

Just my preference though.

Out of 7 ? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800498)

Why didn't Mr Usability rate them out of 10 or 5?
Scales most people are used to.

Re:Out of 7 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800748)

He did a usability study on scales. In his tests, he learned most people preferred a 1-7 scale, as it was large enough to allow for some granularity without being so large as to be overwhelming.

Re:Out of 7 ? (1)

iamnobody2 (859379) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801222)

But on what scale did he ask them to rate usability scales? Seems like there might be a bias towards whatever scale might be used.

Useless study (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32800588)

Sorry, but I think this is a useless study. Who the fuck gives a crap about reading speed, even controlling for comprehension? Is this that episode of the Simpsons where Lisa meets her erstwhile future husband?

No, it's not. Reminds me of a time in High School, I was reading a book, somebody starting bothering me about how long I was taking to turn the page. They'd timed it or something. I told them to fuck off, I wasn't in a race with anybody to finish the book, or the page, and I liked it for the leisure.

Yeah, I know, way to get ostracized in High school, but I'll be damned if it was even worth going anyway.

Reading is harder on a monitor. (3, Interesting)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800652)

Have you ever typed a document in, carefully checked for the numerous errors that a spell checker will not catch only to have the errors JUMP out at you once they hit print, only to go back, fix the errors only to have them jump out at you on second print or even third? I have my guesses as to this phenomenon, but I've observed it in myself and others time and time again. Sometimes when I'm programming and cannot find the problem I'll highlight the area and suddenly see the errors, so my guess is simply having the medium in your hand in print or on a different colored background without glare as on a monitor can cause you to connect better with the reading material and find the errors or comprehend things faster.

Re:Reading is harder on a monitor. (3, Insightful)

dstar (34869) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800840)

I have to think that this is because so many people insist on using dark text on a light background, which means that you effectively end up staring into a lightbulb all day long -- of course you miss things!

I see people talking about studies which show that dark-on-light is easier on the eyes, but every one I've actually seen data for was for _non_-backlit surfaces.

(Other possibilities include the fact that the spacing between lines -- leading -- needs to be proportional to the length of the lines, which it's not on any computer I've ever seen).

Re:Reading is harder on a monitor. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800866)

There was studied that showed folks read slower on computer monitors - and I can't find the damn thing because Google insists on giving me a few thousand hits on speed reading and get you kid to read fast advertisements and how to make your monitor faster :-(

Re:Reading is harder on a monitor. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801378)

> Have you ever typed a document in, carefully checked for the numerous errors
> that a spell checker will not catch only to have the errors JUMP out at you
> once they hit print...

Yes, but I can get the same effect by displaying the document in a different format and font.

Re:Reading is harder on a monitor. (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801540)

Interesting!, Which makes me thing that I could use a program or functionality that would display my doc or highlighted material in random fonts and different backgrounds to help find errors.

Study done cold? (3, Insightful)

jridley (9305) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800678)

It looks like they just handed an ereader to people who weren't necessarily familiar with them.

My reading speed when I first got my reader was about the same as paper, probably a little slower. As I got used to it, I read faster and faster. After 2 years, my reading speed and comprehension on an ereader is much higher than it ever was with paper.

Also take into account the fact that it's much easier to hold a reader than a paper book, and I don't ever have to hunt for a bookmark.

Re:Study done cold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801458)

However on an e-book, each page has to be flipped rather than being able to read 2 pages on regular book before being flipped. That might account for the 5% speed difference for new users.

I have a study for you... (2, Insightful)

instantkamera (919463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32800758)

This study is, as studies in general tend to be, lacking in real detail and offers no real conclusion. At best, it serves to inspire debate about shit that doesn't need debating.

If you want to know how e-books compare to their print brethren, try an eReader or two out. Presumably, you have read countless paper-based writings, so you ought to know fairly quickly how well the format works for you.

Sheer speed isn't necessarily the "be-all" either.

Some reasons I have chosen the eReader format going forward:

- Unlike someone mentioned above, "how to hold it" is far less of an issue with an object of consistent size than with varying sizes of books/novels/mags. I read a lot in bed, laying on one side or the other. This generally means that, while one page will be a totally comfortable read, the opposite side requires a change of placement of book, head, or both. Other issues arise with the size of a book and amount of pages. The start/end of a large book can be unbalanced due to the distribution of the pages, thus being difficult to read.

- I find the same issue (how to hold) actually kept me from reading most books in public places (such as the metro, where you have limited space and time). NOw it is far easier to hold my ereader (sony 505) in one hand than most books, and I can flip the page with that same hand. This means I will actually break out a book on a 10 minute bus ride, where I did not bother to before.

- Portability: The fact that I can carry around a TONNE of books in one tiny form-factor means I can do far more reading when I am not at home.

- variable text size: This actually allows me to read faster as I dont find myself getting "lost" in large paragraphs of text, causing me to have to re-read parts of a book.

- exposure to new material: Let's face it, not everyone can get published, and no one want's to read a 100+ page pdf on their computer. I think the single largest benefit to these devices is that it allows you to read things you otherwise would not be able to. It lends exposure to the "little guy" (I have friends who have written whole novels, theses etc that I am now able to read).

There are more pros, and certainly some cons too, but the bottom line is that I am reading far MORE (and more varied) material now with my eReader than I ever was. Isn't that the most important thing.

Pages. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801014)

It takes longer to turn a page on my Nook than it does to turn a real page. ENTIRE STUDY CONFIRMED!

Sloooow (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801018)

eBooks are slower to read than a normal paper book?

Welcome to the wonderful world of [charge battery] computing. In this ebook you will discover the [charge battery] way computing has [charge battery] changed our lives in all sorts of [charge battery] gadgets.

Re:Sloooow (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801994)

I've last recharged my Sony PRS-505 about two weeks ago, and I use it daily, so I'm not sure what your point is (if there even is one).

"PC World reports...." (1)

SandyBrownBPK (1031640) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801140)

Say, "Hugh Pickens..." Your link points to a PCMAG article, not PC World! Wondering if you can read from any format...

Interesting tidbits, and glaring holes (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801154)

sorry, not about goatsee, move along now...

1- the LCD-based iPad, e-Ink Kindle, and paper book all scored basically the same. Would a Retina or PixelQi screen score even higher, or does that mean that existing screens are good enough, and further enhancements are superfluous ?

2- The study is lacking is several aspects: no variation in lighting, no information on the setting (bed ? desk ? john ? public transport ?), no information on retention either (I've read somewhere else than proofreading is much more accurate on paper than on-screen)

3- 17 min is a very short time, I often read for hours at a time. Eye fatigue sets in over time, not after a quarter of an hour.

Excuse me sir pardon me (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801160)

did you claim to say reading eBooks takes more time than reading real books? That a company who publishes real books and magazines like PC World would conduct a scientific study they claim is unbiased even if they are in the very business that eBooks threaten to compete with and possibly shut out. That they are not doing this to manipulate, scare, or use psychological warfare/operations to get more people to avoid the eBook market and buy more of their paper based books and magazines?

If you say so sir, but me and Mrs. Columbo seem to think that scientific studies done this way by biased sources, based on history always make biased claims and just McDonald's will do a scientific study showing their food is healthly and allows one to lose weight by eating a lot of it, and Microsoft claims Linux, a competitor to Windows has more security holes and bugs in it and that so does Firefox have more bugs and security flaws than Internet Explorer that this is starting to develop into some type of pattern.

But you know sir, figures can lie, but sometimes liars figure that even a peer reviewed scientific theory proven the best way it can will fool people even if it is biased and a sockpuppet scientist or someone else rubber stamped it for money and called it a peer review, but I digress if the public ever find that out, or figures out such things happen, no public relations you can do will be able to recover from this.

Oh yeah one more question sir, if eBooks are electronic books and digital information in the same way as web sites like say Slashdot are, and other studies show that one can read web pages (digital information) faster than printed newspapers, books, and magazines and these scientific studies were done by third party neutral scientific groups with no bias and nothing to gain, why is yours right and theirs is wrong?

Oh yeah sir, I hate to keep bothering you like this, but one more thing that bugs me, maybe you can shed some light on it, there was once a scientific theory and study that said boys were smarter than girls long ago. Because of this most of western civilization considers females to be weaker, less intelligent, and not to be treated with equal rights as males are. It was peer reviewed and proven. Then later as new theories and new technology and ideas came about they found out that girls learn education differently than boys do and that they had to change the way they teach so girls can learn and reach their potential, so something that was through to be true a long time ago and scientifically proven was later found to be flawed and wrong and in error. So education got changed to adapt to teaching girls to help them learn better and become smarter, even than most boys. That in some areas girls, women, and females in general are smarter than us males, and because of this type of stuff kept most women from entering the math and science areas which is why males had dominated them, but now due to this correction more women are getting into Math and Science areas and more women are attending colleges than men now. They didn't do the research to see how education worked that allowed boys and girls to learn and see if it was a factor. I believe using my own powers of logic deduction and detective mode, that your study used people not as smart as most on the Internet who use eBooks and thus took longer to read because they weren't computer savvy or technical enough to figure out how to use an eBook reader properly as most Slashdotters that could be used in such research may be used to find out they read eBooks faster than real books because they understand how tech works and electronic devices being the geek geniuses that we are, instead of the average person who cannot figure out what the difference between "save" and "save as" and choose RTF or Word 2002/2003 format for Office 2007/2010 to share documents with older versions of MS-Office and non-Windows machines that cannot read such files.

I'm fast (1)

FRiC (416091) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801192)

I don't know about others, but reading e-books on LCD screens is much faster for me since there's no pause in having to flip the page, just touch/press and go. I'm much slower when reading on the Kindle since the page refresh takes so long and I literally have to wait for the next page to come up. I really like the Kindle's e-paper display but the page refresh, the color inversion, and waiting drove me nuts.

I don't quite understand why the Kindle needs to invert to black and back when flipping pages but the web page can scroll and update without inverting. It would have been really nice if there was an option to flip pages without the color inversion.

Anyway, my favorite reading device right now is the iPod touch since it's easy to hold in one hand and "flip" with my thumb. I can read really fast and I've already read hundreds of books with it. It's not so good for technical reference though, probably an iPad...

Re:I'm fast (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801482)

The color inversion happens because e-ink screens are bistable -- the screen uses no electricity when it's displaying either the light or dark elements. In order to change what's shown on the screen, it needs to 'clear' what was displayed previously. This manifests itself as a brief 'flashing' of the screen. Incidentally, when it flashes is the only time that an e-ink screen consumes any energy. Conversely, your LCD monitor that doesn't require this flashing is constantly using electricity.

Also, the flash only takes about a quarter of a second. How long does it take you to turn a page in a paper book? I guarantee it's not too different. Certainly not enough to make an appreciable difference in your reading speed.

Page Flip Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801204)

I'm just wondering if these have been corrected for page flip times. That might account for the apparent slower read time...

Re:Page Flip Time (1)

instantkamera (919463) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801238)

I'm just wondering how, all these years, flipping a page in a book/magazine has been instantaneous for everyone else but me ...

I don't have a caravan entourage... (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801214)

...but I can carry hundreds of eBooks, multiple Bible versions, dictionaries, and the entire text dump of Wikipedia (Wiki2Touch), and still have room on my iPod Touch to carry music and videos. Yes, paper absolutely has its merits, but the convenience of sheer volume of a portable eReader often outweighs those merits.

Intelligence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32801248)

Did they also measure and compensate for the average intelligence of the iPad owners?

Show/demonstrate/proof != suggest (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801320)

From TFA (em mine).

The result? A 24-user study showed that reading from a printed book—versus an e-book on any of the three tested devices—was a faster experience to a significant degree.

The user study group is too small to be statistically significant. It can't possibly "show", "demonstrate", much less "prove" what TFA claims it does. At best, the article should read that findings of this user-study group suggest that reading from a printed book versus an e-book might be a faster experience under certain conditions... further research is needed.

But then again, it's PCMag for Xenu's sake.

Having said that, from my own experience using a Kindle 2 for both technical and leisure books, a printed book is a much faster read for me. I stopped buying e-books because of this. Any other new purchases have been in the form of old/used printed books (much cheaper and much more efficient for reading.)

I can only conjecture that this is because of ergonomics and screen size. I can see much more text at once in a printed book than with a Kindle 2. I can scan for key phrases before immersing myself in a page faster. I can backtrack pages faster (to reinforce what I've read so far.) Flipping through physical pages seem faster and more efficient than scrolling through screens (which is also why reading from a book is more efficient than reading from a scroll or concertina-styled folded document.). I can bend the tip of an arbitrary page (for bookmarking) and go back to it faster than trying to bookmark and navigate to it in a Kindle (can't speculate about the iPad, though.).

Unless there is a breakthrough in HCI, reading from a physical book will most likely be more efficient than using the e-reading technology we have today.

Sony eReader PRS-600 (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801322)

I have the PRS-600 and I like it, but I do find that I spend more time than I'd like shifting it around to get glare off the screen.
Additionally some of the books I've downloaded from Project Gutenberg are formatted strangely, and have carriage returns part way through lines. (Commercial ebooks are fine so far.)
Both issues tend to slow down my reading experience.

I also wouldn't recommend the PRS-600 for reading PDF based ebooks. The text reflow is bearable but if there are images or scripting it murders the document.

But it's a nice portable solution for carrying your favorite literature around.

Re:Sony eReader PRS-600 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32802046)

Additionally some of the books I've downloaded from Project Gutenberg are formatted strangely, and have carriage returns part way through lines.

It's the historically popular plain text format with hard line breaks, usually at 72 chars per line. Most readers, both software and hardware, don't have precisely 72 chars, so they have to wrap those lines. With hard line breaks, what you get in effect is paragraph-per-line.

Something like calibre can easily detect and fix this, though. Or you can write your own Perl one-liner.

Quality of the eBook version? (1)

DaScribbler (701492) | more than 3 years ago | (#32801328)

I saw no mention in the study on verifying the accuracy and quality of the ebook version. I myself have some of Hemingway's work on my Kindle and was frustrated at how poorly they were converted to ebook format.

I've taken note many times how I tend to chew through books a lot faster on my Kindle than I do with dead tree books. Except those books where I find myself stumbling on misspellings, typos, etc... sometimes to the point where it was obvious an entire word was misinterpreted when going through it's OCR process. When I stumble upon a book as poor as that, my reading speed slows to a crawl.

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