Tuesday, August 31, 2010

E-Books: Swimming Into The Mainstream

E-Books, E-Books, E-Books.  Tired of it yet?  Get some sleep and be ready to face the new day, e-book popularity is rising very quickly.  This is not to say that harcover and paperback, audio, and large print are going away.  These will be with us for some time to come.  This is to say the e-book is becoming more common.

Be ready for the devices used to read e-books to change.  We're familiar with Kindle and Sony readers.  Other brands are coming out but these two are neck and neck right now - edging out Barnes and Noble's Nook for the moment.  Mobile phones have apps that allow you to wirelessly purchase and download a book.  Expect device convergence as we go along. 

My Experience
I have played around with e-books.  I have read them on my pc.  I was also surprised to find the kindle app already installed on my Droid!  Being of curious nature, I immediately paid for and wirelessly downloaded a book from Amazon. 

Reading on a Droid is different from reading on a dedicated e-reader or from an actually book itself.   From a readability standpoint, the difference between reading a book on an e-reader and a Droid is something like the difference between reading regular print or large type.  On the Droid, I have tried reading in regular light, in the dark, and on an airplane.  I didn't find any place to be problematic. 

I did switch the book from black type on white background to the reverse. This is much easier on the eyes. I also enlarged the print a bit.  I had feared that enlarging the print would cut off the print so I would be shuffling back and forth.  This was not the case.  If you have astigmatism, the print is no easier to read without correction than a print book.  Bummer

A lot of news and research is coming out about who is reading e-books, how reading habits are changing, and even where they read.  This is a phenomenon to pay attention to!

How Big Is The Phenomenon?
Random House executives project ebook sales to be more than 10% of its U. S. sales revenue next year
The average number of public libraries providing ebooks is currently 65.9%.

How Reading Habits Are Changing
Preliminary research showed that people who buy e-readers tend to spend more reading. The novelty of using an e-reader will remain a reason for some time.   

Another reason is portability. One slim e-reader takes up less space and is lighter than a paperback. A reader on a mobile phone takes up even less space. In the case of mobile, it is also more likely that the reader will always have a book with them.  Most avid readers fear not having enough books to tide them over. These devices enable the reader to carry many more books in one small device.

This portability even changes the places people read.  One woman reported e-reading in a kayak while her husband fished.  She was careful to put a waterproof cover on the book beforehand.

Another study notes that “Screen reading encourages rapid pattern-making, associating this idea with another, equipping us to deal with the thousands of new thoughts expressed every day. In the future, “reading will be more athletic.”  Finally, a reading olympics!

Who Reads E-Books
Currently, the e-book customer tends to be older and college-educated.  More women than men read e-books.  More men than women read e-newspapers and e-magazines. As prices for mobile and e-reading devices lower, it is very likely that the younger readers will join the trend.

Citations I didn't lose:

WSJ – “New Devices Are Changing Habits. People Are Reading More, Even While in a Kayak”
(The ABCs of E-Reading)

Reading in a whole new way:

Random House executive projects ebook sales as more than 10% of its U. S. sales revenue next year

E-reader Customers Are Older, College-Educated Users

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