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Feb 11, 2013 at 05:01pm IST

Reading e-books easier than printed versions for older people

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

While people young and old prefer reading paper books to tablets and e-readers, older individuals could find themselves reading faster and with less effort on a tablet, found researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Among 360 readers ages 21 to 34, no difference in reading speed or brain effort was detected between reading via a book, an e-reader and tablet.

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.

But big differences were recorded among 21 users ages 60 to 77 when they read the same text on paper instead of the devices, TechNewsDaily reported.

In fact, using a tablet improved speed and reduced effort compared to paper and e-readers. Researchers measured eye movements and brain activity from EEG readings to determine ease of reading.

Traditional e-readers were no help: Reading a short page of text on a e-reader took the older group about 28 seconds, the longest of the three.

Switching to the printed book shaved 1.5 seconds off the time. But reading on a tablet took just 24 seconds, that's 2.5 seconds faster than reading on paper.

The researchers concluded that a tablet's backlighting, which was adjusted to the brightest setting, made the difference.

All tablets use backlighting, while e-readers use what's called an E Ink display that provides less contrast than a brighter tablet (although it allows people to read in bright sunlight).

But despite the physical findings, older adults and their younger counterparts said they got more pleasure reading from a paper book.

The researchers said this was evidence of a cultural bias against digital books rather than a cognitive phenomenon. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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