Speed reading, or why I still like the printed page

I just finished reading my friend Rob Byrnes‘ novel Holy Rollers yesterday, the second to feature the characters affectionately dubbed “The Gang That Can’t Do Anything Straight.” If you’ve read any of his previous books, you know to expect a lot of giggles, several laugh-out-loud moments, and at least a couple instances where he twists things into such a pretzel that you wonder how they’re going to get out of it.

I started reading this novel weeks ago on my Kobo. I kept wondering why it was taking me so long to finish it—the one thing I was sure of was that the writing was not to blame for this. And yet, it seemed like every time I picked it up, I only got a couple pages along.

Fast forward (no pun intended) to this past Friday, when the print edition arrived in the mail. As of Sunday morning, I’d finished the last 100 pages and now I’m eagerly awaiting his next book (so get cracking on that, if you would please, Rob).

I guess it never occurred to me that I might read more slowly on an e-reader, but maybe I’m not too surprised. Whenever I sit down in front of a computer screen, time seems to pass… strangely. I get less done. It’s easy to call it multitasking, but the truth is I’m easily distracted. (This is why the typewriter comes out when I’m on deadline.) Although e-ink is supposed to mimic the experience of reading a printed page, it turns out that we read 6.2 percent slower on an iPad and 10.7 percent on a Kindle.

In some ways, I can see where reading more slowly might be more desirable (increased information retention, greater comprehension). When it comes to reading for pleasure, though, I have a lot of books and not a lot of time. I’m not going to put my Kobo on eBay, but I’m not about to get rid of my library either. (This, I know, contradicts my earlier post about keeping less stuff. Still, the book collection=one item.)