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With tablet computers, we're reading more

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New survey finds many tablet users are reading more news than they have before. Some publishers report surges in subscriptions as accessibility improves.

As television, followed by computers, proliferated across homes and workplaces in our society in recent decades, there were plenty of predictions that reading was fast becoming a lost art, replaced by a bombardment of electronic entertainment.

But the rise of tablet computers may be turning us back into a society of readers. We already have seen the rise of Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers that calls forth the world's literature at the touch of a button.

First comes a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group, which finds that three in ten tablet news users say they now spend more time getting news than they did before they had their tablet. Just 4% say they spend less time while two-thirds (65%) spend about the same amount of time. About 11% of the 5,000 American adults surveyed own and use tablets, according to the survey.

Eight in ten tablet news users say they now get news on their tablet that they used to get online from their laptop or desktop computer. Fewer respondents, although still a majority, say the tablet takes the place of what they used to get from a print newspaper or magazine (59%) or as a substitute for television news (57%).

Another report suggests that publishers are seeing increased readership thanks to the evolving accessibility to journals through tablet computing. Condé Nast, for one, indicated the iPad received access to Newsstand, a new feature in Apple's latest iOS platform, subscriptions across titles like GQ and The New Yorker have climbed 268 percent. Single issues reaped their own rewards and spiked 142 percent, the publisher said.

Critics of our digital culture say we're losing something in the switch from print to electronic media. However, in some ways, digital devices may be bringing even more content to the masses.

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure