According to a new report, digital reading has gone viral, with one in five Americans on board last year. Malcolm Jones on the good news for publishers–and the bad news for librarians.
If you had any doubt that Nooks, Kindles, iPads, and even smartphones were radically changing the habits of American readers, give it up. So says a report, “The rise of e-reading,” published yesterday by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, and it has a mountain of facts to back up that claim.
One in five Americans read an e-book within the past year. About 43 percent of American adults say that they have either read a book or other long-form content (magazines, journals, or news stories) in the past year on an e-reader, a tablet, a computer or a cellphone. And 28 percent of Americans own at least one device for e-reading, either a tablet or an e-reader. Not only that, but the people who read e-books, many of whom also read printed books, are reading more than ever, even more than people who read the old-fashioned way. The average reader of e-books claims to have read 24 books in the last year, compared with an average of 15 books read by those who read only print. And this all happened before J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were available as e-books.
Publishers have reason to be thrilled by these findings. People reading more? What’s not to like? Booksellers in brick-and-mortar stores and librarians, on the other hand, can take little comfort in the statistics. Most people buy their e-books online, and they do buy most of what they like to read (the exception: audiobooks are big with library patrons–61 percent of those who listen to audiobooks prefer to borrow them). And e-book readers don’t share (not because they’re selfish, obviously, but because it’s difficult to transfer an e-book from your device to mine).
According to the Pew study, the percentage of people who read printed books still dwarfs the percentage of e-reading folk. Some 72 percent of American adults say they read a book last year, compared with 17 percent who said they read an e-book. But that was in December. When Pew did another canvas in February, the number who said they’d read an e-book jumped up to 21 percent (it was a big Christmas for e-readers of all kinds). There are, according to the report, “four times more people reading e-books on a typical day now than was the case less than two years ago.”
Source: The Daily Beast | Malcolm Jones