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Poll finds digital, print reading almost equal

52% of iPad users said it was easier to read digitally rather than the traditional format according to Gartner

Poll finds digital, print reading almost equal
According to a Gartner survey, the time people spend digital reading or reading from a traditional printed page has reached almost equal levels.

Gartner has revealed that the time people spend reading a digital screen is now almost equal to the time spent reading printed paper text.

A recent survey by Gartner showed that 52% of iPad users said it was easier to read the screen than the printed page, while 42% said it was about the same and 47% found it harder than reading printed text.

For the survey Gartner polled 1,569 consumers in the US, UK, China, Japan, Italy and India about their experiences reading the printed vs digital page.

Gartner used online, face-to-face and computer aided telephony interviews to poll participants.

"There are concerns that digital media will cannibalise print media, based on the general decline in newspaper sales and take-up of online news services in many parts of the world, but the evidence from our research is that print and online are not generally regarded as direct substitutes by consumers," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner. "Something more complicated than a straightforward substitution of print to digital media is taking place."

Across the demographics, screen reading is now virtually on a par with print consumption, according to Gartner.

The survey data showed that younger age groups are happier to read on screen than older respondents, with the 40 to 54 year age group least satisfied with their screen reading experience.

The results showed that men typically reported screen reading easier than women, but both sexes said screen reading was generally the same or harder than reading printed text.

"Trying to sell the same basic content to the same consumer in different formats risks alienating the consumer, who will balk at paying twice for the same thing," said Ingelbrecht. "The survey results confirm that multichannel content distribution is essential for reaching consumers who are consuming near equal amounts of print and digital text. Content, publishing, and media organizations should market the synergies of multichannel products to consumers, stressing the benefits of having both print and online access, rather than selling competing stand-alone products."

Around 40% of respondents had no experience of using e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle DX and Barnes & Noble Nook, this percentage was higher in India at 75%, the UK 56% and the US 57%.

Chinese respondents had the highest familiarity with e-readers and also the highest percentage of respondents that said e-readers were easier to read than the printed page.

"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," Ingelbrecht said. "This means improving media tablets and screen 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."

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