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NerdyKeith's avatar

Has the interest in reading books increased with the availability of eReading devices?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5426points) April 5th, 2016

Devices such as iPads (and other tablets), Kindle, Kobo etc

Personally I feel more inclined to read on an electronic device. Especially with my iPad mini, which is rather easier to carry around. Plus I have the choice of using several online book stores and eBooks are far better value for money in my view.

And I have noticed a lot of people on trains and buses reading on their iPads and Kindles (even some senior citizens).

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21 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

[Answer deleted. I misread the question. Sorry.]

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Jeruba No worries, it happens

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I can’t speak for anyone else and I don’t have any sales figures to say whether more books are being sold in digital form than were in traditional, paper form, however, I do buy more books now. I don’t read more now than I did but because digital books are cheaper and more accessible for me I will buy a digital book rather than go to the library. Often a text I might need to read/reference will cost a lot in paper form, and I may lack the time to visit the library, so if I can buy a digital version for $15.00ish, I do. I love books. I have hundreds of paper books, I have hundreds of digital books. I still buy paper books.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Cool. I’ll still purchase paperback copies from time to time myself. Actually one of the libraries that I go to, offers members an app to download. Its basically a reading app and you can rent eBooks on it. They usually expire after three weeks.

JLeslie's avatar

I read more than I ever did before because of Fluther.

In terms of devices like Kindle, I’m not a reader so I never bought myself anything like that. I did buy one for my aunt. Previously, she received books from her library, but now she can borrow books on her kindle. She does both. I do think having the Kindle gives her more opportunity to have more reading material. She is practically housebound, so it’s helpful for her.

My dad loves to read and loves books and prefers to read a real book. He buys and sells books as a business. The advent of Kindle and iPad and other devices has hurt his business.

Seek's avatar

Eh. I have a hard time bringing myself to buy anything I can’t hold in my hands. I’ll rent eBooks from the library, but I won’t buy them. Sure, Amazon will store them on your account so you can download them again on a new device, but Amazon could shut down tomorrow and they’d be under no obligation to make the stuff you bought available to you. Ask all the people with Zune accounts what happened to the music they bought after their devices died.

Nope, I hoard paper books like canned goods after the Apocalypse.

Mariah's avatar

Ebooks are cheaper and much easier to bring with me on the subway. It’s hard to say what I would be doing if I didn’t have my Kindle; if it weren’t an option maybe I would be sucking it up and hauling real books on my commute, but I think I probably would not be.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Mariah Before I used eBooks, I used to have one book in my bag. It usually took up a lot of space. So much better to have my iPad mini. Much more compact.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, okay. Initially, reading too hastily, I thought the question asked if our reading of “real” (physical) books had decreased with the advent of e-books. So that’s what I answered. Then I saw that the actual question was whether the availability of e-books had caused an overall increase in reading. Very different.

But several people seem to be responding to the question that I mistakenly answered to start with, comparing book-buyers’ preferences for paper books and e-books. In that case I might as well repost my answer:

There’s no doubt that electronic readers have cut deeply into the market for physical books and, together with the legitimizing of self-publishing, have thrown traditional publishing into turmoil.

But there are still plenty of printed paper books for sale, both new and used, and plenty of die-hards who don’t read e-books. There are also many like me who eventually capitulated and acquired an e-reader (in my case, 2 years ago) but still vastly prefer real books. I read probably at least a dozen hard-copy books for every e-book.

These days more and more of the books I want to get from the library are available only electronically. In those cases I obtain a hard copy elsewhere (usually from Amazon Marketplace, where, even used, they’re less used than a library copy) or do without. I’m not-not-not going to borrow an e-book, and I won’t pay more than $6.00 for a Kindle version. I’d rather read a 1930s hard-cover edition of something (dating from the days when proofreaders still knew how to proofread) than look at a shiny new paperback full of OCR scanning errors.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@NerdyKeith, I now pretty much buy and read all my fiction on my Kindle. It’s rare I read a novel more than once. There are some classic books I might read repeatedly, but they are very rare. So I’d rather save trees and not buy paper novels.

Scholarly texts are a different beast. While I do buy a lot in digital form (because of the cost and quicker access), I often print them off. I don’t read the whole book. I’m picking bits out of them and I need to be able to scan the content quickly. I can’t really do that on an electronic device. So it doesn’t cut down on paper use for me to buy a digital copy of such a book. I actually find it really hard to read such texts on a device.

Seek's avatar

^ I agree. It’s incredibly hard to flip through nonfiction books for information on a digital device. The amount of time it takes for a page to load on a screen is longer than it takes me to scan for the needed word.

johnpowell's avatar

I’m a paper book guy. I love rummaging through the used bookstore and grabbing books for a buck each. I love the yellow pages and the old book smell.

And even more I love giving out books. I can be chatting with a friend about what I just read and if they are interested I can give them the dead-tree version to read in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine. Or on the bus next to a guy smelling of wine.

I can’t read books on a iPad or Kindle. It is harder to get in the zone. On electronic things the urge to check my email is to great. With a paper book I can get lost in the story.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t care for ebooks. However, I don’t read a tenth of what I used to because of the internet.
Overall, though, I doubt that the availability of ebooks has affected anything. People who don’t like to read, don’t like to read and an ebook isn’t going to affect that.
People who do like to read may get ebooks, but that’s just yet another medium to satisfy their desire to read.

Jeruba's avatar

@johnpowell, > On electronic things the urge to check my email is to great.

I have a Kindle Paperwhite. It’s a dedicated reader. No connection (I keep it in airplane mode), no general Internet services. Some features are pretty cumbersome, but it does have good, crisp displays. I have a “basic” phone, too: again, no Internet. I do not want the world to follow me wherever I go.

The reason I finally allowed myself to be given an e-reader was that we went on vacation to a cottage in the mountains and I hauled along about 12 pounds of books. After that I thought being able to carry a huge and varied library on a little grab-and-go unit (great for ER waiting rooms and doctors’ offices, too) was a good idea.

I love old books too. When I take them out of the library, I’m affecting the retention algorithm: somebody borrowed it within the past x years, and now it’s no longer as likely to be on the chopping block.

The more e-books they acquire, the less demand for shelf space, don’t you think? Maybe the old stuff that’s there now will stay.

Stinley's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m not sure that e-reader might have made books more accessible to some. For example my cousin is dyslexic and was told to try an e-reader with the font set to maximum. This means that there are only 3–6 words across each line and this really helps him stay focused on the line he is reading and moving to next. With a longer line of words, it’s hard for him to follow it all the way across and he has to go back and re-read and re-read. He now reads loads from only having read Harry Potter.

I take some of your point about if you are not a reader then the format won’t make much difference. I do think I, as a reader, read more because of my Kindle. I find it physically easier to read on it. Access to the books is much more convenient. Pricewise it’s about the same. But I do worry about all my spending being with one company. And @Seek‘s point that my books would be lost if Amazon goes under (not likely) or changes their policies (hmm…)

I’ve had a little look for some research articles but, without doing a PhD and finding the answer myself, there is not much research on this question that I can see.

Jeruba's avatar

A comment that’s not related directly, but maybe peripherally: At the height of the Harry Potter craze, when people were standing in line, some in costume, to buy the latest installment on release at midnight, I saw a lot of verbiage about how the series was encouraging kids to read.

I didn’t feel like waiting around for some Ph.D. dissertation to be summarized in an obscure news article, so I asked a librarian. She in turn consulted her colleagues at the branch before answering me.

The essence of her response was that the popularity of the series seemed to be adding books to the reading lists of kids who were already readers, but it didn’t seem to be actually adding many new readers. They did not see a significant upsurge in library use or membership, just an upsurge in demand for those particular books, and, of course, anything “like” them.

I wonder if it’s something similar for e-readers: that they’re changing the way readers read, and maybe prompting some duplicate purchases, just as we once bought music CDs of our old vinyl favorites, without winning many new converts.

I’m pretty sure that if someone gave me one of those game box things, I wouldn’t feel any more like playing video games than I do now, no matter how accessible and convenient.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba That makes sense to me, and describes myself. I am not a person who has ever enjoyed reading books. Harry Potter would be daunting, just for the sheer size of the books. There have been a few books I have enjoyed reading over the years, but mostly they are a struggle for me to get through.

Seek's avatar

At 12 years old at the date of publication in the US, I was the Harry Potter target audience.

I was already a voracious reader. By the time Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out, I had read every Goosebumps and Fear Street book, and all 150+ at the time Babysitter’s Club books, and every word written by Lurlene McDaniel, the Animorphs series, the Everworld series, and all of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and many other books besides.

At the time, Harry Potter was just one more book. It was a fun book and I looked forward to The Chamber of Secrets, but it didn’t spread like wildfire through the 7th grade classroom or anything. I was still one of just a couple quiet nerds that always had their heads in a book.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek I was sort of a nerd too, but a math and science nerd. I was two grades ahead in math, and took AP anatomy and physiology my senior year. I barely cracked open any text books. I got through just paying attention in class and doing workbook assignments.

jca's avatar

I used to be a big reader back in my day. When I was a pre-adolescent and a teen, it was Nancy Drew, E. B. White and Judy Blume. I also read Jaws in 4th grade, out of desperation for something to read. I’d read the Readers’ Digest, New York Times Magazine, anything.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Reader’s Digest starting from the back. I don’t know why.

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