! ‘Jakob Nielsen: usability of books, Kindle, iPad’
The latest issue of Jacob Nielsen’s AlertBox features the results of a usability study that compares the reading speed and satisfaction of reading books on the printed page, the Kindle, the iPad, and on a PC. No surprise that paper books provide a faster reading experience, though the iPad and Kindle provide a (marginally) more satisfying experience.
Full disclosure, about a month ago Sunam got me a Kindle for (early) Father’s day. No, we didn’t get the new DX with lower price and way-more-awesomer screen, and she bought it a few weeks before Amazon cut the price by 25%. Which would normally be enough to say, “Amazon, you are dead to me.” But I can’t, because I _love_ my Kindle. I take it everywhere.
Having children has cut down a bit on my reading time, but I still sneak in a few pages whenever I get the chance. When it is cold enough to wear a coat outside, I almost always have a paperback (or two) stuffed into one of the pockets. I keep a novel in the van in case I get a few minutes to read. And now, I can carry this with me instead. It is smaller than a trade paperback, the screen is great, the text can go as large as I want, it handles PDFs (fairly) well… I already have a small library on it (including all the readings for one of my courses).
But I’m not ready to chuck my books yet. The Kindle and iPad are far superior to printed books in certain aspects. But not in all aspects. And much the same way that Correll and Melmac may create dinner plates that are far superior to china in certain respects, when company comes over, we still whip out the heavy glazed ceramic plates to eat on.
A final aside on the iPad, which scored a marginally better in user satisfaction than the Kindle. I seriously considered getting one. I was even willing to brave the out-of-date-in-one-year danger inherent in being an early adopter of any Apple technology. The thing is, based on how and where I use my Kindle for, the iPad has one serious drawback: it shoots out light into my eyes. I have enough issues with eyestrain and headaches without getting my corneas blasted in bed or on the couch late at night; I much prefer the indirect light of a bedside lamp. That being said, I’ve looked at comic books on the iPad, and for that, it blows the Kindle away. And I’ve seen lots of people using iPads in meetings, at work, at Starbucks, in the doctor’s waiting room, all of who say the iPad has changed the way they work. So next year, if they come out with an iPad 2, I might be ready to get one.