Mobile Computing | Research

iPad, Tablet Users Prefer Digital Texts

Acceptance of digital texts is way up, especially among users of iPads and other tablets. In fact, according to research released this week, time spent reading texts in digital formats now just about equals the time spent on paper-based texts.

Ease of Use
According to the report, released by market research firm Gartner, a full 94 percent of iPad users and users of other tablet devices either prefer reading digital texts (52 percent) or find them as readable as printed texts (42 percent).

Contrasted with that were laptop users, a large portion of whom--47 percent--said they find reading texts on screen more difficult than reading paper. (The next-largest group among laptop users, 33 percent, said the experience was about equal to reading printed texts.)

The report, "Survey Analysis: Consumer Digital Reading Preferences Reveal the Exaggerated Death of Paper," surveyed more than 1,500 end users in the United States, the UK, Japan, India, Italy, and China in the fourth quarter of 2010. It found that the amount of time spent reading digital texts now nearly equals time spent reading printed materials.

Demographics: Age, Gender, Income
"In terms of gender, men typically reported screen reading easier than women, but both sexes said screen reading was generally the same or harder than reading printed text," according to the report.

Those who had the least acceptance of reading on screen were 40- to 54-year-olds.

Interestingly, a full 57 percent of respondents from the United States reported having no experience whatsoever with e-readers like Kindle or Nook, compared with 40 percent in the overall survey. "Urban Chinese respondents had the highest familiarity with e-readers and also had the highest number reporting that e-readers were easier to read. This reflects the relatively high income and education level of the sample in China," researchers reported.

Seventy-five percent of respondents from India and 56 percent of respondents from the UK also reported having no experience with e-readers.

"Consumers' reading habits are shaped and reinforced by the types of reading they do and don't do. Technology and service providers' product road maps, therefore, need to address changes in consumption patterns as well as the ergonomic and cognitive factors associated with the changes in reading habits," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "This means improving media tablets and [e-readers] to become more competitive with paper in terms of weight, form factor, screen resolution, waterproofing, ruggedness, easy highlighting and note taking. This will enable consumers to take and use their devices at the beach, in the bath or out into the sun where they take their paper books, newspapers and magazines."

The complete report, "Survey Analysis: Consumer Digital Reading Preferences Reveal the Exaggerated Death of Paper," is available now from Gartner for $1,295. Further details can be found here.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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