Wednesday, June 13, 2012

{Mechanics} How Fast Do You Read: A Lamentation

 I read like a snail on honey- who's eaten too many honey buns.

If I was kidding, then I'd probably put a hilarious joke right here- no such luck.

See, it's only semi-hilarious.

This is because I read slowly. I once recorded my reading time, and I read 30 pages in an hour. Now, this is with a fast paced book. 

So let's discuss reading times.

Generally, I read faster when I'm on a Kindle. I don't know, but when I have a real book in my hands I feel like I have to savor the paper- you know, like lick it or some kinky crap. But according to survey by Dr. Jakob Nielsen, reading on a tablet is actually slower than reading on printed paper!

"The study found that reading on an electronic tablet was up to 10.7 percent slower than reading a printed book. Despite the slower reading times, Nielsen found that users preferred reading books on a tablet device compared to the paper book. The PC monitor, meanwhile, was universally hated as a reading platform among all test subjects."

(Just throwing this out there: anyone who likes reading on computer monitors- you are screwing yourself over. Glasses are expensive, man!)

Funny thing, though- the article goes on to say:

"Users were reading 6.2 percent slower on an iPad compared to paper, and 10.7 percent slower on the Kindle 2."

I'm pretty sure this keen thing will hurt your eyesockets less.

Hold on a second- you're saying that the fricking iPad LCD screen that rapes my eyeballs with its television-like quality- it lets us read faster than with the Kindle?

Granted, this study came out almost 2 years ago, so the Kindle has become better. I remember that the Kindle used to take forever to load the next page! Like, I would hit the "Next Page" button, go to the kitchen, make myself a sandwich, eat it, digest it, take a dump, and then come back to read. And then I would forget what was on the last page, so I'd have to go back.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but I decided to put this to the test.

As a study, I read the same chapter  of the same book on my iPod touch, my Kindle 2, and on Printed paper. (For posterity, I did this twice, then averaged it. Also, the book was Delirium by Lauren Oliver.)


iPod- 34 minute 50 seconds
Kindle- 37 minutes 47 seconds
Book- 40 minutes 02 seconds

What does this mean?

Even I don't know.

I have noticed that my reading time has gotten faster as I've read more books. I guess that its one of those things where as you do it, it becomes easier. (I think that's everything- wait- not people. Haha, I made an inappropriate joke.)
This is the font Chinese restaurants use.

However, you have to note that the spacing on pages is different for every book. The Hunger Games only had like 2 words on a page, so I felt like I was reading fast. This is opposed to, say, a mass market paperback.

It also should be noted that certain fonts make us read faster. I'll draw out this point by exaggerating- do you think you could read an entire book in comic sans or courier typewriter font? No.

And, last thought. I read in National Geographic that there was this one man who read one page with one of his eyeballs and read the other with his other eyeball. So the left was reading the left page and the right, the right. After he was done, he put the two pages together.

I was thinking three things:

  • Holy turds
  • How does he do that?
  • I want to be like that guy.
But, as I tried to do it unsuccessfully, I realized something: we should all just appreciate books, no matter how long it takes us to read, because we do it for enjoyment, not for sport.

Also, I realized that I became more formal toward the end of this article, so here's a stupid picture for your enjoyment.


Mechanics is a weekly feature on Wake Up at Seven. It explores everything surrounding books and reading, to make you hyper-aware that books are nothing but chopped paper. 


  1. Awesome post! I didn't know about those studies. I for one rather read on my kindle any day. And I think I read faster on my kindle than in actual paper/hard back. Or it could be the particular book I was reading...I don't know either. I guess in the end you should just read in the format that you prefer, it's not like reading is a race...reading is for enjoyment so take your time and enjoy the book :)

  2. Thank you!

    And I agree, there are many benefits to a Kindle. I liked using a Kindle until recently, when I realized I spent too much money on books. So now I get everything from the library, haha.


  3. Well I used to read slower on my kindle because the buttons needed super-human strength to push down. Oh yeah and that slow page refresh too. I'm with you on that kindle design got a whole lot better. This post was really amusing and well written. I like that you actually went and found a study and then tested it out on yourself.

    1. Thanks, Erika!

      Yeah, the stuff I do for my blog. Sigh. Experiments are somewhat tedious but the results were interesting.


  4. I read non-fiction, which I think I read the slowest, at over 1300 WPM. I don't actually read that fast when I read for fun. My normal reading speed, when I'm not trying to read fast (enjoyment purposes), is that I can read a 300-ish page book in about 2-3 hours. More like in the 2 to 2 1/2 hour range.

    1. 0.o I wish I could read a 300 page book in 3 hours. Alas, I read a 300 page book in 7 days, if I set aside 2 hours a day, lol.

      I find I read faster if I read aloud to myself.


    2. I've been measuring my reading speed for the past couple of years and it's actually gone up about 200 WPM. So, I think you'll find you gradually read faster and faster over the years.

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