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Study: E-book readers no digital newspaper replacement

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 are unfit to serve as replacements for traditional printed newspapers, according to a new study.

Over a six-month period in 2009, University of Georgia researchers asked residents of Athens, Georgia to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution with  an Amazon Kindle DX.

Athens was recently dropped from the AJC's circulation area.

Led by UGA professors Dean Krugman, Tom Reichert and Barry Hollander, the researchers found that readers of all ages were impressed by the readability of the Kindle screen, but few thought it a suitable replacement for a traditional newspaper.

(While Amazon's Kindle is better known for its book-reading capabilities, the large-format DX model is pitched as a textbook and newspaper replacement.)

This was especially pronounced by younger adults, who said 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.

The Georgia results add on to previous reports from Princeton University, one of the schools selected for an early pilot program of the device, who called the Kindle DX "a poor excuse of an academic tool."

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 seen as too expensive for reading the news, participants said.

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