Readers are consuming text off a digital screen almost as much as reading printed paper text, according to a new survey.
Tablet and iPad users surveyed by Gartner say they find screen reading easier than reading printed text.
The survey was carried out in six countries – The US, UK, China, Japan, Italy and India – with 52 percent saying they found reading on their tablet or iPad easier than reading books, while 42 percent said it was about the same.
However, 47 percent of laptop users found it harder to read on their screens than reading printed text.
“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.”
“Trying to sell the same basic content to the same consumer in different formats risks alienating the consumer, who will baulk at paying twice for the same thing,” said Ingelbrecht.
Gartner says there are benefits in having both print and online access, and that multichannel content distribution is essential for reaching consumers who are consuming near equal amounts of print and digital text.
According to the Gartner survey, across the demographics, screen reading is now virtually on a par with print consumption.
Ingelbrecht said there is a need to improve 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, so that consumers can 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.
Other results showed that around 40 percent of respondents had no experience of using e-readers, such the Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle DX and Barnes & Noble Nook.