jakob_nielsen.jpgJakob Nielson, a usability expert pictured here, has conducted a study of comparative reading speeds on the media mentioned above. Nielsen is a Ph.D engineer and a recognized expert in the usability field. Here are the results. You can find more information, including the level of user satisfaction with the devices, here.:

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.
Thus, the only fair conclusion is that we can’t say for sure which device offers the fastest reading speed. In any case, the difference would be so small that it wouldn’t be a reason to buy one over the other.

But we can say that tablets still haven’t beaten the printed book: the difference between Kindle and the book was significant at the p<.01 level, and the difference between iPad and the book was marginally significant at p=.06.


  1. I hope someone tests comprehension. I notice that I skip less on the Kindle than I do reading a paper book. I think it’s the result of having more readable text (larger font) on the Kindle.

  2. Does speed difference really matter that much?

    Heck, when I was working on my masters and doctorate in literature and had to read, on average, a 500 page novel every few days, comprehension was vastly more important than speed.

    When I read for fun, I certainly am not on the clock, either.

  3. I’ve digitized almost all my course materials, and though reading from screens is still quite dissatisfying (I read both from a 15 inch diag lcd as well as from a 7 inch cheap Chinese tablet) the fact of being able to carry all my texts with me compensates the rather uncomfortable glares and the stress of running risk of loosing annotation data because of lack of user-friendliness of the reading software I´m using. Every once in a while we hear from big names like Umberto Eco and, more reasonably, J. Nilsen, but do they really take all the aspects implied in reading from the screen (no just being able to read a paragraph faster)

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