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E-book readers unfit to be newspaper replacements, study says

Portable e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle fall short as replacement devices for traditional printed newspapers, according to a new study.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Portable e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle fall short as replacement devices for traditional printed newspapers, according to a new study.

E-book readers need features such color, photographs and touch screens before they are fit as a suitable alternative, according to a University of Georgia study.

Conducted over a six-month period in 2009, the study asked area residents of Athens, Georgia to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution using an Amazon Kindle DX. (Athens was recently dropped from the AJC's circulation area.)

The study's leaders, UGA professors Dean Krugman, Tom Reichert and Barry Hollander, found that while readers of all ages were impressed by the readability of the Kindle screen, few thought it a primary method for reading news.

This was especially pronounced by younger adults, who thought the Kindle fell short compared to smartphones that have touchscreens and support for multiple applications and the Internet. "The e-reader felt 'old' to them," the study's authors wrote.

Older adults were more receptive to the concept of an e-reader, but found that the Kindle couldn't reproduce some beloved aspects of newspapers: comics, or crossword puzzles.

For all participants, cost was a factor: the Kindle DX’s $489 price tag was too pricey for reading the news, participants said.

A second phase of the study will include "more rigorous" in-depth interviews to answer questions raised in the initial research, with a focus on if and how an e-reader becomes part of a consumer's daily media experience.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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