iPad, e-readers may indeed kill the printed word — survey

A new Gartner survey in the US, UK, China, Japan, Italy and India has exploded the myth that people find an LCD screen more tiresome than paper to read off.

The survey came up with surprising results that indicate that reading on a tablet — such as the iPad — ranks the same for most consumers as reading from printed paper.

However, for laptop users, reading was easier done off paper than their machines, the survey found.

The huge majority of tablet and iPad users say they find screen reading either easier than reading printed text (52 percent) or about the same (42 percent) — indicating that only 6% of iPad owners had a preference for paper when it came to reading.

However, 47% of laptop users preferred to read off paper, while 33 percent reported it was about the same.

For the 1,569 people in the survey — primarily tablet and laptop users — the time spent reading off a digital screen is now almost equal to the time spent reading printed paper.

Survey data showed that younger age groups are happier to read on screen than older respondents, with the 40 to 54 years cohort least satisfied with their screen reading experience. 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.

The survey research indicated that around 40 percent of respondents had no experience of using e-readers, such the Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle DX and Barnes & Noble Nook, and this was even higher in India (75 percent), the U.K. (56 percent) and the U.S. (57 percent).

Surprisingly, 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,” Gartner said.