Device in your Hand

Book Cover If you are left handed, and you use a digital reader, in which hand do you hold the device?

Conversely, if you are right handed, and you use a digital reader, in which hand do you hold your device?

This was something Jane Litte and I were talking about yesterday as we were getting ready for our session, eReading from the eReader’s Perspective. (Full conference update coming soon.) Our presentation covered the differing hardware, software, and customer support of the different readers, and what a curious device buyer needs to consider when shopping for a device.

The device Jane was examining specifically was the Nook Color, which has a touchscreen page turn (and no buttons) that cannot be customized. So the page forward is on the right side of the screen, and the page back is on the left. This cannot be changed.

ETA: as MsCrankyPants identified, I’m speaking specifically of the frame screen tap: “It is done by a quick light tap between the frame and the screen that will forward a page or go back a page. Tap on the right side of the NookColor to advance a page, done on the left goes back a page.”

Jane and I realized that we’re both right-handed, but we hold our devices in our left hand. My husband is left handed, and when I asked him, he thought about it, and said that he holds his reader in his right hand. I’m wondering if it’s true generally, that digital device readers hold their devices in their non-dominant hand (so the dominant hand can be busy cooking, eating, lifting drinks, driving a public bus, applying mascara, etc) (all at the same time, of course).

If that’s true, and digital readers are more commonly held in the non-dominant hand, that makes design a more crucial point for ease-of-use. As we pointed out yesterday, the Kindle has page forward and back buttons on both sides in equal sizes, making the device pretty ambidextrous when it comes to page turning. Menu operations are on the right side, however. The Nook Color is right-handed, as is the current Kobo, which has the page turn button in the lower right corner. I believe Sonys are customizable with the touch screen page turning options available for every which way, so they can be reset as well.

This isn’t earth-shattering by any means, but it makes a difference when you spend money on a device – you want it to be easy to use. And since I’m nosy and curious, would you let me know if this is true for you – generally speaking. Subway poles and varying environmental factors not withstanding, if you read digitally, do you hold your device in your non-dominant hand most of the time? And if you read books that you can hold in one hand (like mass market sized paperbacks, or hardbacks if you’re like that bouncer I saw last night with hands like a catcher’s mitt) which do you use, dominant or non-dominant hand?


Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Chelsea says:

    I just got my Kindle a few weeks ago. I’ve noticed I feel most comfortable holding it in my left had, and thus keeping my dominant hand free for things like picking up my drink, or snack, or typing on the computer/texting. I’m a big time multi-tasker.

  2. 2
    Laura (in PA) says:

    I voted right handed/right hand, but it actually depends.

    I have 3 devices I read on – iPad, iPhone, and Kindle. When I use the iPad or Kindle, I mostly hold the device in both hands, or prop it in my lap, and turn the pages with the right hand (button on Kindle, touch right side of screen on iPad). I also use the iPad when I’m at the table eating breakfast, and it sits in its little stand, and I turn the pages with my left hand, so I can eat with my right.

    For the iPhone, since its small, I hold it in my right hand and touch the screen with my thumb to turn the pages.

    So, I guess the Jeeves answer is actually the closest for me. ;)

  3. 3
    Jennifer says:

    I have a Kindle which allows for switching hands very easily. My Kobo is not easy to read left-handed and drives me crazy for that reason. I’m a righty who almost always reads lefty. I never really noticed this until I got my Kobo and realized that the lack of page turning buttons on the left-hand side was highly frustrating.

  4. 4
    Beth M. says:

    I use my iPhone and iPad both for reading.  I use Kindle, Nook and iBook equally.  I’m right handed but I switch back and forth between which hands I use.  If using my iPhone it doesn’t really matter because I turn pages with the thumb of the had holding the device.  With the iPad, I have to use both hands but it’s worth it for the larger type and screen.  Can’t drive a bus while reading though!

  5. 5
    Natasha A. says:

    I am right handed. I hold the in either hand, depending on how I am sitting. The majority of the time I use my left.
    The Kobo is bad for this, because the buttons are on the right side. I didn’t realize I would read it with my left hand, but this has become bothersome. Now that I have received a Kindle, (where both the back and forward buttons are on the left side) I am reading a ton more ebooks.

  6. 6
    Beth says:

    I got a Nook Color for Christmas, am right-handed and mostly hold the Nook in my left hand.  This is partly due to the fold back cover I got for it and installed as if a real book and partly due to the fact that my left hand and arm are stronger.  I find that I do fiddly things with my right hand and strength needing things with my left (pouring from a full pitcher, lifting a hot pot, etc.).  I am fairly ambidexterous in most things I do (knitting, embroidery, etc.).

    I do switch hands at times while reading depending on what else is going on and what placement on the desk/table works best with that activity.

  7. 7
    Ken Houghton says:

    I voted right/left, but on the subway, it’s right/right.

    The Wii—which is older tech than the Nook—allows you to customize your handedness for each Mii.  That the Nook—a late entrant to the mobile-reading-device market—decided that 10% of their potential market should be put at a disadvantage from the start is an example of the crack management that has made B&N the company it is today.

    Or, as McGarry’sGhost commented on Twitter about Borders, “failure masquerading as vision.”

  8. 8
    bookstorecat says:

    I own the nookcolor. It is NOT right-handed! (How much sense would that make?) It is actually an ambidextrous device. I use my left hand to hold it and turn the pages all the time. I am a right-handed person, but probably do use my left more on the nookcolor because you really only need one hand for reading with an ereader.

  9. 9
    Jennifer B. says:

    I have a Nook Color and it doesn’t seem to care which side I turn pages on – it’s more about the gesture. Sweep your finger left to right, turn the page forward. Sweep right to left, the page goes back. While it can’t be changed, it feels very authentic to me. Just missing the “lick the fingertip” part…

  10. 10
    cursingmama says:

    I’ve got a Nook (non-color) and appreciate that there are back & forward buttons on both sides.  However I find myself confusing them when I don’t actually hold the reader in my hand – but read from it on a table or stand. 

    What I’ve found overall is that I really don’t like page swiping so I’m glad I didn’t choose a NookColor.

  11. 11

    Mostly left handed, and I hold both my Sony & paperbacks in my left hand. When I read, I really, really read. ;)

  12. 12
    morwen says:

    I hold my kindle with both hands at all times. A bit weird I guess. I had’t really even thought about it until now. I do “turn” pages with my right thumb though.

  13. 13
    Kati says:

    I hold my kindle with my left, but turn pages with my right hand. It’s like a can’t get away from holding it like a book. Unless I’m on the Metro, then it’s right/right. But usually, it’s left/right. Which is kind of ridiculous, I know.

  14. 14

    I have a brand new Kindle and I switch hands quite a bit.  I get tired, or I need to switch which hand is holding on for dear life on the subway or something.

  15. 15
    Peggy says:

    I voted right handed left read because I often read at restaurants and it is much easier to be ambidextrous with my e book readers than my fork.

  16. 16

    I haven’t needed to think about this as my BeBook Mini has three options for page turning. Buttons on the left and bottom of the front side, and a turning wheel on the right side (which is convenient when holding the device by the looped closing flap of the cover (or whatever it’s called)). So both hands have two positions available for one-handed holding…and I just shift position as necessary without thinking about it.

    (I hope this makes sense. I’m supposed to be asleep already so I can’t be absolutely sure.)

  17. 17
    bounababe says:

    My ebook reader is my iphone and I am left handed, but I tend to hold it in both hands and change pages with my right thumb.  I think most lefties simply adapt to the right-handed world without thinking about it anymore and live with the permanent ink/pencil staining on the left ring finger (unless they write in that upside down way that always creeps me out a little). I would be pretty surprised if an ereader came out that catered to lefties.

  18. 18

    My husband and I are both right-handed and both hold our devices (Kindle and iPod Touch for me; nook for him) in our left hands. If I bought a NookColor and found out I could only turn the page with my right thumb, I’d have to take it back.

  19. 19
    BethP says:

    I have the Nook Color and I can go backwards and forwards using one hand.  Turning pages forwards and backwards is based on the motion of the sweep, not on which side of the page you sweep (swipe?) 

    I hold it with my right hand and use my right index finger to turn pages.  I move my finger from the right edge towards the center to page forward.  If I want to go back, I just place that same right index finger a little towards the center of the page and sweep to the right to make it page backward.  Easy peasy.

  20. 20

    I’m right-handed. I don’t usually hold my Kindle at all—I read with it resting on the table/desk/bed or propped on my lap, and turn pages right-handed.  Unless I’m eating, in which case I turn pages left-handed because my right hand has the fork or sandwich.

    I’d never thought of it before, but when I picked up my iphone and a small paperback to test, it seemed natural to hold both in my right hand, though I’ll often check email or Twitter with the phone in my left hand while carrying things in the right.

  21. 21
    Overquoted says:

    I’ve got an SR-505. I’m right-handed and use my left, but it might be because the buttons on the right of the SR-505 are sometimes weirdly difficult to press (and much smaller).

  22. 22
    bookstorecat says:

    the Nook Color, which has a touchscreen page turn (and no buttons) that cannot be customized. So the page forward is on the right side of the screen, and the page back is on the left. This cannot be changed.


    Thank you to BethP and others for their corrections, too.

  23. 23
    Jennifer Uribe says:

    I am right handed.  I have an original Nook and I tend to hold it in my left hand.  It has buttons on either side (like the Kindle) for turning pages as well as the capability to change pages with the finger sweep across the touch screen.  I do switch hands occasionally, but I tend to hold it in my left.  When I read a paperback, I generally hold it with two hands, but hold it with my left when I need to reach for something.

  24. 24
    Mary Jo Taylor says:

    I’m one of the switch hitters. I use my Palm TX mostly, but also read happily on my Android phone. So altho I hold it in either hand depending on where I am and if i am leaning one way or the other, if I were just sitting normally, I probably use my left preferentially (right handed).

  25. 25
    Genevieve says:

    I hold regular books with my non dominant hand and use my dominant hand to turn the pages. Maybe it’s the same thing for e-readers. Habit.

  26. 26
    KCfla says:

    I have a Sony 700, and I’m a right-handed/left hold girl. But as someone above said, that’s probably due to the cover I have for it- which makes it open like a regular book. Come to think of it- I do that with “dead tree” books as well.
    The place where I do most of my reading is chair with an end-table on the right hand side, so that probably has a lot to do with that as well. Since If I’m reading a hard back, I’ve got it propped on my lap, held with my left hand and handling anything else ( phone, drink, dog toy, etc.) with my right.

    My daughter got a Nook Color for Christmas, and when I asked her she said she holds it with whichever hand is convenient. As I haven’t been given the chance to play with hers yet ( she guards that thing like a hawk!) I don’t know what I’d do using hers.

  27. 27
    Aelia says:

    I got a Kindle for Christmas, and I really like it a lot. I tend to read with it in my left-hand if I’m holding it single-handed, but much of the time I hold it in both hands.

    I don’t really mind that the menu stuff is all to the right-hand side, it feels more natural for it to be there, at least for me. When I’m trying to navigate menus, I typically use both hands anyway.

    When holding paperbacks, I often use the one-hand page-spread with my left hand, which I think means that my left-pinkie is exceptionally strong, since it’s gotten used to holding books open.

    Well… this is more thought than I typically put into statements like this…

  28. 28
    Lynn S. says:

    I had to think for a moment and then had to pull out my Sony pocket reader and, like I originally thought, I hold it cupped in both hands and press the page turn with my right thumb.  If I’m doing, or should be doing, something else such as eating or working, I go the hands-free approach by propping the reader up against its cover on an available surface.  My beloved ereader has made an even greater social misfit of me.

  29. 29
    Nicole says:

    I have the Nook Color and I use it with both hands. When I hold it in my left, I just swipe my thumb to change the page. Same with the right. I only use one hand when I read, so being able to swipe and change the page works great for me.

  30. 30
    KellyM says:

    I have an original Nook (not color) and it’s pretty ambidextrous with forward and backward page turning buttons on both sides.  It also has a swipe function using the touch screen on the bottom of the device.  When the screen goes dark, you can use it to swipe in either direction.  The swipe function on mine is a little finicky, but when it works it’s nice to have. 
    I’m right handed and I usually hold Larry (What?  They asked for a name when I registered it, so I gave it a name) in my left hand and turn pages with my right hand.  I do try to switch it up sometimes, but that’s my default setting I guess.

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