Did Pew just find that nearly twice as many paperbooks are read as e-books?
I keep seeing various things which seem to suggest that e-book growth has stagnated…that it had a meteoric rise from when the Kindle was introduced to something like 25% of the market, and then has hit a plateau.
That narrative certainly wouldn’t fit what I thought would happen.
Quite simply, I think e-books are generally better for most people, in terms of simple recreational reading of novels or popular non-fiction.
There are all sorts of advantages: the increasable font size, how portable e-books are, the ability to look up words, the way it can remember where you were without a bookmark, and so on
Sure, there are some disadvantages as well, but I honestly think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
At the very least, p-books aren’t twice as good as e-books for the most popular kinds of reading.
Pew regularly surveys Americans on their reading habits, and looking at it comparatively from year to year, it isn’t obvious that there is the same kind of explosive growth.
Taking a look at this year’s
as summarized by Andrew Perrin, there is a lot of interesting information (based on their survey).
I don’t want to take too much away from it. I’ll mention that I was surprised that the younger the age segment, the higher percentage of them say they have read an e-book. My impression, in the beginning, was that e-books appealed more to older readers. The benefits one gets from e-books apply more to typical seniors than to Millenials.
I suspect that this change, if it is one, may have to do with a trend to read e-books on SmartPhones and other non-reading dedicated devices, as opposed to EBRs (E-Book Readers). My guess would be that SmartPhone use is more prevalent among younger people…I don’t tend to read e-books on my phone, because the screen is simply too small (among other reasons).
What I’ve seen as the main headline from this report, when it has appeared in the blogosphere, is soe variant of this which appears in the actual report summary:
“…print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats”
I think people writing those headlines may have missed something.
While it may be true that 54% of respondents reporting having read a “print book” in the past 12 months, only 28% having read an e-book, that doesn’t mean that about twice as many p-books were read as e-books.
My intuition is that serious readers are more likely to read e-books than casual readers…they also benefit from the advantages (especially the storage and portability) more.
Let’s say that a serious reader reads fifty books a year and a casual reader reads ten books a year. The latter number is actually high, but let’s go with it.
Next, let’s say that 75% of e-books are read by serious readers.
That would mean that serious readers read 37.5 e-books a year and 12.5 p-books.
The casual read would read 2.5 e-books and 7.5 p-books.
That would make 40 e-books versus 20 p-books.
That seems more accurate to me. I also think e-book growth will continue, especially since younger people seem to be reading them the most.
I do recommend you read the report (it’s not very long). I’d love to discuss some of the other points, if you want to ask me about them. You can do that, and tell me and my readers what you think about what I’ve said, by commenting on this post.
Bonus thought: is a refresh coming to the Echo line? Amazon has announced a September 14th event of some kind for the UK, and some people think that might be the Echo coming to the UK. The Echo Dot (I use one every day) is no longer available, with no indication of when it might be coming back in stock.
You can still get the
We might hear more on the 14th than some are currently guessing…Amazon is good at that.
By the way, this is an interesting third party device! It’s a
For $49.99 at time of writing, you can run your Echo off this base for something like 5 hours…without plugging it into power! The Tap is still more portable, but for many people, this would serve that purpose. It also enables you to talk to it from across the room, which you can’t do with the Tap.
The reviews are very good, with 4.6 stars average out of 5 with 145 customer reviews.
This might be a fun gift for somebody who has already been “Alexified”. 😉
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.