On Eve of Apple Tablet Debut, Study Disses Kindle as Newspaper E-Readers

By: E&P Staff

An in-depth study of the Kindle as a newspaper e-reader finds it comes up short in reader satisfaction. But the study out of the University of Georgia also suggests tablets with color, photos and touch screens — all features, no doubt, of the highly anticipated Apple tablet — could find a market among newspaper readers.

The study found young people in particular said reading the newspaper on a Kindle “felt old” and was an inferior experience to following the news on smartphones.

Older adults didn’t worry about the missing bells and whistles, but they were disappointed that familiar newspaper features such as comics and crossword puzzles were missing from the Kindle.

Whatever the age, responded praised the readability of the Kindle — and balked at the Kindle DX model’s cost of $489.

The research project was conducted over a six-month period in 2009 by professors of advertising Dean Krugman and Tom Reichert, and Barry Hollander, an associate professor of journalism in the university’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

They provided the Kindles with subscriptions to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to residents in the Athens, Ga., area, where the newspaper has stopped circulating regularly. It made a good test area to see whether e-readers such as the Kindle could take the place of a print newspaper.

The researchers conclusion was that the Kindle without the features of a smartphone was unlikely to sustain a newspaper reading habit.

The research was funded by a grant from the university’s Cox Institute for Newspaper Management Studies.

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