As an aspiring ebook author and lover of books, I’ve been excited by the growth of ebook readers. I got a Kindle myself a couple months ago and have been using it when I travel. But, as someone who has had trouble with RSI in the past, I can’t help but wonder at the possible ramifications of yet another device that has us tap-tap-tapping with our fingers. Are e-readers ergonomically friendly?
I’ve tried a couple and find the iPad and new Nook pretty comfortable (I’m a fan of the touchscreen interface). I purchased a 3G Kindle myself because I just wanted a basic reader that offered a book-like reading experience (no colors or bells and whistles needed for me), though I’d say it’s the least ergonomically friendly of the ones I’ve tried. (Fortunately, my RSI isn’t much of a problem these days.) The actual flipping of the pages is no trouble with the buttons on the sides; it’s the keyboard and directional cursor control that I find a little awkward. For normal reading, I don’t use those features, but I’m currently editing one of my own stories and I decided to do the final pass on the Kindle. Making notes on the manuscript is tedious enough that I keep them ultra short (to be fair, I’ve been an iPhone owner for years and have gotten used to typing with the touchscreen).
If you’re shopping for an e-reader now, you may find this discussion over at Mobile Reads helpful. Several folks chimed in on the ergonomic issues of their various devices.
If you chance upon this blog post and would like to share your thoughts, I’d be interested to know if anyone is having troubles from too much time spent with their e-readers (and, if so, did you have RSI/Carpal Tunnel type problems before?)?
I don’t use my own enough to worry about it–and it’s not going to keep me from downloading a pile of fantasy ebooks to read over the weekend–but I always see the potential for overusage and pain from all the devices in our lives. Lots of repetitive tapping and clicking can be tough on the small muscles and joints in our hands and wrists.