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Older people 'read eBooks more quickly'

24th October 2011

Older people are able to read digital novels more quickly than printed books, according to new research, though the majority of readers still prefer tangible copies.

A study carried out by a team at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany analysed elderly people's use of both iPads and paperbacks to read novels and found that they were able to process the information on the digital screen three times as quickly as the printed word.

However, the majority of older people maintained that they preferred to read a physical copy of the novel to a digital version, revealed lead author Professor Stephan Fussel.

'This study provides us with a scientific basis for dispelling the widespread misconception that reading from a screen has negative effects,' he explained.

Professor Fussel added that the study demonstrates how the subjective preference for the printed book is not an indicator of how fast or how well the information is processed.

Recently, former Man Booker Prize winner Graham Swift said the future of literature could be threatened by the proliferation of eBook use, as the devices are putting off many emerging authors.

However, Pat Cadigan, twice winner of the Arthur C. Clarke award, claimed that eBooks could act as a saviour for several authors and prevent 'many wonderful books from being lost', rather than being the death of the printed novel. 

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