Harris poll: E-book readers read more

Harris poll: E-book readers read more

Years ago, I remember saying that “…the more you love books, the more you love e-books.”

Initially, people who read e-books were treated by some “serious readers” as…inferior. It was somehow insulting, or even anti-literature, that we would read the same words that the other person was reading, but not in the same “container”.

I know I’ve mentioned this one before, but I thought my Significant Other had the best line. When somebody saw my SO reading a Kindle and sneeringly said, “I like the feel of a book in my hand,” my SO replied, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” 😉

While there certainly may be some tactile (and olfactory) things that we lose, the simple fact is that you can have more books available to you more often with e-books.

Now, this

Harris poll

backs up the assertion that e-book readers read more.

My guess, by the way, isn’t that the e-book medium itself makes you read more, although that’s possible. I think it’s that the people who read a lot are attracted to EBRs (E-Book Readers).

After all, if you only read a book in a month, you don’t see the same benefit you would if you normally carried two or more books with you everywhere (which I did).

Here’s a short excerpt with one of the most interesting statistics:

“Interestingly, there appears to be an intersection at work between how Americans read and how much they read. Those who read either more or exclusively in the e-book format are more likely to read over 20 books in an average year (30%) than either those who read more/only in hard copy (18%) or those who read in both formats equally (21%). They also report a higher average readership per year than either hard copy hardliners or equal-opportunity readers (22.5 books vs. 16 and 15, respectively).”

There is a lot more to the poll, including gen-gen (generation and gender) breakdowns.

I don’t want to take too much away from it (I recommend you read it), but I do want to mention this.

Only 6% of the respondents said that they read e-books exclusively.

I would put myself in that category (although I am reading a p-book…paperbook…right now, that’s really a fluke, and I don’t consider it normal).

I’m guessing a significant number of you do, too…although I’m also guessing I have a lot of “mixed media” readers (some p-books, some e-books).

Why do I read just e-books (despite having something like 10,000 p-books on shelves in our house)?

No question, the ability to increase the font size is part of it. My vision isn’t what it used to be, and I can wear glasses (I buy cheap ones, and scatter them around the house), but it’s nice not to have to do that.

Another big, big issue for me is text-to-speech. I use it typically for hours a day in the car…I much prefer that to the radio.

Third, there’s the portability. I tend to bounce from book to book, rather than reading one straight through. On Goodreads, I show myself as currently reading more than ten books. Part of that is because I never abandon a book…so if I’ve started it, and haven’t finished it, I consider myself to be currently reading it.

However, I am actively reading (every day or two)…certainly three books.

A fourth reason: free public domain books!

I could keep going. 🙂

The key thing: those who read e-books read more (on average)…and they report that the amount that they read is increasing.

Again, it’s a bit hard to separate that out without more information. Serious readers might always tend to report themselves as reading more…I just don’t know that.

I will say, though, that book lovers love books…and e-books give us the opportunity to have more books and more access to them.

What do you think? Are you reading more or less than you used to read, or is about the same? What makes you choose to read an e-book over a p-book (and vice versa)? Will e-books reverse the trend of declining reading rates eventually? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

13 Responses to “Harris poll: E-book readers read more”

  1. Karin Says:

    I am a librarian, and I worked in an independent bookstore for about 8 years, so I have always loved books.
    I not only read more books since 2008, when I bought my first Kindle, but I also read more variety of authors and genres.
    The availability of the classics, particularly the complete works of so many authors (inexpensive) just makes the e-reader definitely a draw.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karin!

      I understand. 🙂 I’d say the expansion of genres, while I do consider myself an eclectic reader, is noticeable with e-books. That has to do in part with the low investment in trying so many books. you mention inexpensive public domain works…I do like the ease of the collected works, which may cost a few dollars, and I like the availability of the free ones. 😉

  2. Brad Says:

    I am retired and got the first Kindle when it came out. I read way more books since I got that Kindle. Now have a paperwhite and am always reading something. In fact, I have about 10 books lined up to read. Before e-readers I would look in Barnes and Noble and hope to find a book to read. Now with the reviews in Amazon I can pick out something I know I will enjoy, mostly. Am 71 and have that paperwhite with me everywhere. Love you Blog Bufo. I have gotten a lot from it that is helpful with all my Fires. Thank You!

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I was surprised that the average books read by e-book readers was 22. That seems low to me. I’ve mentioned before that I had almost stopped reading books due to vision problems. Then the Kindle came out and I was able to read again without eyestrain. Ever since, I’ve been reading at least 3 books per week, sometimes more. I also subscribe to blogs like this one, NY Times, AP, several magazines. Maybe I’m making up for lost time during those years when I was lucky to read a book a month because I could only read for a very short time before having to rest my eyes.

    I still occasionally read a paper book. I’ve recently had to switch to a newer computer, and the OS was really different from my three generations past version of the OS, so I bought a “missing manual” that was in print. Maybe if I had a Kindle Fire, I could see graphics better, but on my K3, graphics are mostly unreadable.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Well, looking at it, 56% of e-book preferred readers read ten books or fewer. I would think there are quite a few who read like you do, more than 100 books in a year.

      I’m a bit amused to see that so many people who said they read zero books in a year say they read on both e-books and p-books…how do they know? 😉 I get it logically…somebody might know that the last time they were reading books, they only read e-books…and if they ever read a book again, it would be an e-book.

  4. Patty Breakfast Says:

    I definitely read more now that I have a Kindle. I got it last year and if I do some math it turns out that I have read 663% more books than the years before!
    It’s sad but the country I live in doesn’t have that much of a readers culture so the bookstores are quite small and it seems they only sell best sellers and classics, also there is only one public library that I know of and it is located far away from where I live. Plus books are really expensive, $20+ for one paperback!
    I think that I read more now that I read e-books because I have way more options, most of the books I read last year I wouldn’t have been able to read them on paper because they are not sold here, and buying books for Kindle is way cheaper so I can afford to buy more. I’m super happy with my Kindle 😀

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Patty!

      Are you comfortable sharing the country? You have me curious…

      By the way, just a comment on your name (and I get plenty on mine). 🙂 I eat breakfast patties (from Morningstar Farms) every day as a vegetarian. 🙂

      • Patty Breakfast Says:

        I live in El Salvador, a tiny country in Central America.
        You know, my name is actually Patty but the breakfast part I use it because of a book called Uti-Tanka, Little Bison which was one of the first books I ever read and it’s still one of my favorites. In the book the main character is called Peter Breakfast and ever since I read his name I have been wishing that was my last name hehe.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Patty!

        Interesting! I know of El Salvador, but I don’t know that much about it, really.

        I checked: Amazon does have Uti-Tanka. 🙂 Well, it would actually be third party sellers through Amazon, but still…

  5. haley Says:

    I like to read on my kindle because…
    1)free books
    2)cheaper books (a normal $7 or $5 book will be $2.99 w/kindle)
    3)lighter (some books are +300 pages and are clunky and hard to carry if in paper form–my kindle fits in my purse)
    4)convenient (@ least 200 books in my kindle library that I can access ANYWHERE)

    but…paperbacks are easier to hold and smell of knowledge (unless you get one from the library that smells of smoke and gives you a headache from its position in the room).

    Also in terms of school text books–paperbacks a far better b/c you can run your fingers over the words, highlight suff, pencil things in margins, and a flip through the book w/ease. Personally I learn better from physically holding the book in my hand.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, haley!

      I agree with your first four points. In terms of #3 (lighter), I had a relative who actually had someone tear a hardback Harry Potter book into segments, because it was too hard for that person to read.

      As to your others…I’m not sure why someone would find paperbacks easier to hold. I suppose it might depend on whether you are willing to damage the paperback when you read it…I hold them carefully, where you don’t break the spine, and that seems to take more effort than holding a Kindle.

      I like the turn of phrase of “…smell of knowledge”. 🙂 Here’s a nice video on why people like the smell of old books (although many people don’t like it) from EBook Friendly:


      That association you have between knowledge and the chemicals in the paperbook which creates the odor shows that connection between olfactory perception and memory connection.

      I also find e-books much, much easier for the kinds of uses you would do with a textbook. From your list:

      * You still run your fingers over the words, if you want. I’ve never done that personally, but what would prevent you from doing that on the screen? The screen is also easier to clean afterwards, although more likely to show the impact
      * Highlighting stuff is so much better on e-books! Not only can you highlight it (in multiple colors on a tablet), you can jump right to your highlights, export them easily (into a school paper, for example), and share them with others. The smell of a highlighter? Not a good thing for me 😉
      * Again, annotations are better, for similar reasons to highlighting
      * I’ll give you flipping through (although you can do that on the Paperwhite), but that’s one where you have to look at what you are accomplishing with the flipping. Are you looking for something? If so, search on an e-book work better. If you are just trying to find pictures, at this point, a p-book is easier…but I expect that will change

      You certainly may learn better with a p-book. 🙂 That’s something a lot of people have said. That may be due to how you learned to learn, though, and to contextual memory. If someone grew up on e-books, that might find p-books considerably more difficult. If we are talking about, say, high schoolers, that data will start to show up in a few years. The Kindle (which revolutionized, but did not pioneer the e-book market) came out at the end of 2007. If someone was, oh, five years old in 2008, that would make them 11 or 12 now…

      Again, I appreciate hearing from you, and hope you write again!

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I think our reasons for preferring eBooks over pbooks are similar — save that I don’t use TTS, and I read books serially not in parallel.

    I haven’t bought a single pbook since I got my first kindle over four years ago. It’s hard for me to guess whether I’m reading more — I estimate that I read maybe 5 books a week, or 200 books a year — all mass market fiction (I don’t as a rule read non-fiction).

    I guess the convenience of not having to go to the bookstore might mean that I read more now. 😉

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I have bought a couple of p-books in the last few years, but I regularly read e-books.

      I’m not reading as much as you, although I would say I used to do that…so I guess I’m reading less than I did. However, I’d say writing as much as I do may have more to do with that than any particular desire. Another interesting factor is that I now get some really large books (like a Game of Thrones bundle), so I may be finishing fewer books while reading not a lot less. 🙂

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