We’ve talked about this previously (see also: Thoughts on the iPad and Eyestrain), but the line of thinking here is — yes, they are both backlit screens, but reading on the iPad is different. Why? Per craigmod —
“I think there are five reasons why we’ve never enjoyed reading books on our computers:
The distance between reader and the text is too large
Vertical orientation is unnatural for book consumption
Using a mouse to manipulate position in a book is sterile
Computer screens arenâ€™t technically optimized for text
Desktop OSes arenâ€™t optimized for concentration”
Distance between eyeballs and screen is a contributing factor in the reading experience, for sure. And, with an iPad, the fact that you move the screen, instead moving yourself to fit the screen’s position, means that in theory, you can make yourself more comfortable. How much does that measure of control mean to our overall reading experience?
(I also agree that the removal of the mouse — remember when they were called “human interface devices”? — means that glassy, fingerprint-prone surface is all that stands between you and the text. So, a closer, less sterile experience).