Paper screwed up in favour of digital readers

According to Gartner, reading digital screens is now almost equal to the time spent reading printed paper text.

To make its point, the analyst company surveyed 1569 people in the US, UK, China, Japan, Italy and India. It found that 52 percent of tablet and iPad fans found that reading from a digital screen is easier than reading a paper based text.

It seems to be another study that favours the tablet. 47 percent of users with laptops said reading  on the screen is harder than reading printed text.  

When it comes to the demographics, the older generation has struggled to replace their trusty paper, with the survey finding that 40 to 54 year olds are the least satisfied with their screen reading experience.

Within this age range, men were happier with screen reading than women but both agreed that screen reading was generally the same or harder than reading printed text.

Gartner claims that “digital media will cannibalise print media”.

It paints a bleak future for the printing press, as Gartner believes there will be a “general decline in newspaper sales and take-up of online news services in many parts of the world.”

There’s some small light at the end of the tunnel, with the company saying there is evidence from its research that “print and online are not generally regarded as direct substitutes” by consumers.

There is not yet a straightforward substitution of print to digital media taking place.

In fact, lazily throwing the same content to consumers in different formats may do more harm than good, with many of us putting our collective foot down at paying for the same news, albeit two different mediums, twice.

As a result, Gartner suggests we play nicely and introduce multichannel content distribution, which combines both traditional and new media. But we also have to think about how our tablets will be used and how they can compete with paper.

One example is making screen readers waterproof for beach and bath use, as well as starving them a little bit to make sure they weigh at least the same, or hopefully less than their paper equivalents.

Paper is safe for some time, with the survey also finding that around 40 percent of respondents had no experience of using e-readers, such the Amazon Kindle, Amazon Kindle DX and Barnes & Noble Nook. This was even higher in India with a huge 75 percent, while 56 percent of Britons hadn’t had a go and the US with 57 percent.

Urban Chinese respondents had the highest familiarity with e-readers and also had the highest number reporting that e-readers were easier to read.