By David L. Frosch, USA TODAY A book with a digital screen can be “read” by just about anyone who has access to a computer, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Michigan.
The findings, which came from a survey of more than 1,000 people by the nonprofit nonprofit Reading Rainbow, showed that while many books that were purchased on e-commerce sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble can be easily read with laptops, a number of books that are purchased online are far more difficult to read with traditional printed materials.
Some books, like a “magical girl,” are easily readable, while others, like “The Art of Charm” and “The Last of Us,” are more difficult.
While the findings are promising, there is still a long way to go before digital reading can be considered as a viable substitute for physical books, said Jennifer A. Kinsman, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of communications at UM.
While some studies have suggested that e-book readers are not as good as printed books as a substitute for paper books, this study suggests that digital reading is still not the best way to read books, she said.
The survey also found that people who own digital devices are more likely to use them for reading and writing than those who don’t.
Digital readers are a popular choice for people who are not accustomed to the traditional way of reading, such as those who have a disability, who use it for a learning or a social activity, or who just want to read in the comfort of their home, said Brian Wojcicki, the president of Reading Rainbow.
Wojcikis team collected responses from more than 3,000 respondents to the survey about how they use their devices for reading, writing, and watching movies, television, and music.
They also asked people whether they use a laptop for reading.
The results show that about 15% of respondents said they used a laptop to read a book on a Kindle, which is a digital-only format.
About 13% of those surveyed said they use an Apple laptop.
Other popular devices included iPads and Apple laptops, which are generally considered more portable than other devices, according the survey.
The respondents also reported that they read books digitally by using the Internet and mobile apps, with a majority of those saying they read digitally with a Kindle.
The majority of respondents (60%) said they read their books digitally on a smartphone, tablet, or PC.
For some readers, digital reading may be a more convenient option than traditional printing because the books can be downloaded from the Internet.
Kinesie, who lives in the suburbs of Detroit, says she reads books online by email and on the Kindle.
For some, however, they can also use their phones or tablets to read digitally.
“If you can afford to pay for a smartphone and a computer at the same time, that’s a good deal,” Kinesies mother said.
“I like to go online and read books online.”
The survey found that digital readers are also more likely than printed readers to use apps that allow them to search for books.
The respondents were also more willing to pay a higher price for a digital book if it included information about where the book was published.
Readers who use apps such as Kobo’s Audible or Audible Unlimited are more willing than readers who use print books to pay more for the book if there is a discount, and they are more than twice as likely as those without apps to say they would pay more to get a better deal, according a finding that supports the notion that digital books are a cheaper alternative to physical books.
Digital books are also easier to read than printed books, and that may help people who cannot read print books because they are too lazy or because they do not have access to digital reading equipment.
“People who read a lot of books are often those who are very lazy and do not really have a way to access digital books,” said Kristina Wojcik, who has a young daughter who uses a Kindle and Apple iPads.
“It’s not as easy to get to the next page as it is to find out what’s next.”
Wojciks mother, who works in marketing and social media for a pharmaceutical company, has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of people who say they use digital books to learn and practice.
She said she recently stopped using a Kindle because she wanted to learn how to write better.
“When you can’t get a computer or a phone and go and read a paper book, it’s hard for you to go to the library and learn the skills that you need to be successful,” Wojzcik said.