According to a survey by Gartner, the time people spend reading on a digital screen is now almost equal to the time spent reading printed paper text. In the fourth quarter of 2010, Gartner surveyed around 1,500 consumers in six countries – the US, UK, China, Japan, Italy and India – about their subjective experiences of reading on screen versus reading printed paper text.
The vast majority of tablet users say they find screen reading either easier than reading printed text (52 per cent) or about the same (42 per cent).
This compares to a slightly lower 47 per cent of laptop users who find screen reading harder than reading printed text, and 33 per cent about the same.
Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner, explains that something more complicated than a straightforward substitution of print to digital media is taking place:
“There are concerns that digital media will cannibalise print media, based on the general decline in newspaper sales and take-up of online news services in many parts of the world, but the evidence from our research is that print and online are not generally regarded as direct substitutes by consumers.”
He adds that there is no single paradigm for screen reading, because reading a short piece of text on a mobile phone screen is a different proposition from the reading experience with an e-reader:
“Technology and service providers' product road maps need to address changes in consumption patterns as well as the ergonomic and cognitive factors associated with the changes in reading habits. This means improving media tablets and screen readers to become more competitive with paper in terms of weight, form factor, screen resolution, waterproofing, ruggedness, easy highlighting and note taking.”
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