You are here

Reading e-books easier than printed versions for older people


Older people may find e-books much faster and easier to read than their paper editions, a new study has claimed.

Full article


Twenty-one people. And their preferences were dismissed as "cultural bias." And, lessee, books were better than ereaders but tablets were better than books. Among twenty-one people. And based not on the people's own reactions but on external measurement.

So if we wanted to gauge how much faster certain shoes make people run, we should just ask them which ones feel faster, and not time them?

Regarding sampling, the older adults reading faster on tablets still has p-value of < 0.0001. What number would be sufficient to outweigh one's a priori incredulity?

I may be objecting more to the post's headline than to the study itself. I regard "easier" as a combination of subjective and objective, so, yes, I'd place considerable weight on actual responses from people being asked that question.

Telling people "Oh, you don't really like reading print books or ereaders as much as you like reading tablets; that's just cultural preconditioning" is a bit Orwellian.

I am fully aware that, in fact, I read the San Francisco Chronicle more rapidly (that is, I move through the text faster) on my Kindle Fire HD 8.9 than I did in its broadsheet form. But if you ask me which I prefer, and remove the $530/year reason we switched (the difference between the Kindle subscription price and the print delivery price), I'd say "the broadsheet, any day." Is that cultural preconditioning? Maybe. But it's also the truth for me.

This matters because some agencies--schools, some libraries--seem bent on insisting that everybody move to ebooks (which, by the way, would have meant eInk readers when this started) regardless of preference. Telling me "but you'll read faster" doesn't cut it. Telling me "you'll enjoy reading more"--well, you know, that's not an objective measure.

If I wanted to determine whether people prefer certain shoes and, indeed, whether they found running in them more pleasant/easier, I'd ask them. And I'd pay attention to the answers.

Heck with the studies. I don't need a study to tell me the sky is blue or that a jet is faster than a prop plane.

Question is whether an ebook reader would be easier for older people to use.

For most of the e-ink devices I think the answer would be yes. You do not have to hold them open. A light push or a button or touch of the screen turns the page. They are lighter than a hardcover book. You don't have to work to hold them open like a regular book.

Biggest point you can set the font to a comfortably large size. With my glasses on I can comfortably read a 10pt font but when I use my ereader I set the font to 18pt or higher. Makes it very easy to read the page.

All the advantages just mentioned would be in play when anyone including a senior used an ebook. I find iPads heavy and not comfortable to read. But I notice when I am not reading on my Kindle. When I read a paper book I now notice that I have to hold the book open and the font is not the size I want. I never noticed this very much before I used an e-ink book reader but now that I have been spoiled by the better reading experience it is hard to go back.

So people can run a bunch of studies on whether large fonts on ebook readers will help the elderly but I can save you some time by saying that they will.

since it isn't in the ibnlive article, here is the full study in PLoS One:

All old people are exactly the same aren't they from the arthritis riddled person who can't get out of their front room to the parachuting speed freak, they are all the same.

Older people are not all the same but compared to the general population are older people going to be stronger or weaker than the total population? Compared to the general population are older people going to have better eyesight or worse eyesight than the total population?

Answer: In general the are weaker, slower, and have worse eyesight.

Lighter devices that are easy to hold and have large fonts are going to be useful.

How about this study- Study finds that seniors need heavier books will smaller fonts. Do you think that is true?

What about people with disabilities, don't they need lighter equipment as well?
If you physically can't hold a device or can't see clearly, that's not just an age related issue.
It's ageism gone wild! :P

I've commented further here.