Digital or Paper?

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds by Alison Flood.

From the post:

A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were “significantly” worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience.

The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month and set to be published as a paper, gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.

Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, thought academics might “find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device, in emotional responses” to the story. Her predictions were based on an earlier study comparing reading an upsetting short story on paper and on iPad. “In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,” said Mangen.

But instead, the performance was largely similar, except when it came to the timing of events in the story. “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order.”

Don’t panic! The choices aren’t digital vs. paper. I have any number of titles in both forms. One for searching and the other for reading.

This report is about one data point in a largely unexplored area. Not to say there haven’t been other studies, papers, etc., but on very small groups over short periods of time.

Think of it as family snapshots of a few families versus the bulk of humanity. Useful, but not the full story.

We need to keep taking these family snapshots in hopes of building up a more comprehensive picture of our interaction with interfaces.

Comments are closed.