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LinkedIn question on how reading ebooks changes reading habits elicits great responses

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I am a member of the LinkedIn group Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content Publishing.  A month ago, member Dominique R. asked the group: “If you read eBooks, what have you noticed about your book reading since you started reading eBooks?” She wrote that for her, “…the data is still anecdotal, yet there seems to be murmuring that people reading eBooks are reading more. It’s implied again in this article in the New York Times….”

The question drew more than 50 responses. I’d like to present a few of those comments, edited, of course, to correct grammar, spelling, and to conform to style.

  • Liam C. wrote that he was reading more, but also “skimming more”. He wrote: “Reading for five minutes here and there because I have a phone or iPad handy. Instead of carrying one or two books, I now have hundreds available, with many on the go. I am reading more, but reading differently.”  He continued: “I am reading faster, thinking less about what I am reading compared to how I used to read, constantly battling with the temptation to ‘tab out’ to email or Twitter, and thinking I might be better off with a dedicated eReader rather than an iPad with all it’s other distractions.” Lastly, he wrote that he misses “the opportunity to pass a great book onto a friend once I have finished reading it.” 
  • Massimo A. wrote that “the general reading and concentration attitude of today is going toward flicking through things and multitasking many things instead of committing to one thing. So much choice is bad in this instance….”
  • Bill M. agreed with Massimo, writing “I completely agree. This, to me, is the “dark side” of eBooks, and, for that matter, all things in the realm of digitally distributed information. Much as I like having so much information readily available, with every passing year I feel like I’m sacrificing ever more depth for breadth. We may be well on our way to an epidemic of adult-onset ADD.
  • Bill G. wrote that he’s fascinated that people “rea”‘ differently when they read eBooks. “I read the same way–I’m interested in the language and not the ink and paper. I read more because it’s more convenient to have a large number of books with me always.”
  • Kevin M. wrote that he uses his Kindle mostly to just read. “I’ve been bringing the thing with me everywhere since I got it at Christmas. I’ve read 16 books since then, only two of which were paper. That’s quite a lot for me. I generally read about two books per week, on average, so 16 in 45 days is above average.” He also wrote that he’s “finding it incredibly fun to sample works. With sampling now available on most books, I think I’ll be sampling much more often before I make any purchases.”
  • David R. wrote that “I’m still old school. I love the printed book in my hand, but the market has changed and so must I. It’s hard for me to let go, I don’t like looking at a screen. I think I’m still a little Amish at heart. I have a passion for publishing, so I’m going to embrace the new.”
  • Simone R. wrote that her “reading experience hasn’t really changed that much. I tend to just plough on through the book regardless of the format….until I have finished what I am reading.”
  • Rich T. wrote: “Since I always have my iPhone at hand (well, almost always), I have my library (limited) at my fingertips. I find that I’m reading more in smaller chunks, but it reminds me of when I used to carry a paperback around at school all the time. I can read in line, while walking to the cafeteria, while sitting in my car, at the doctor’s office, etc. I really enjoy the convenience.” He concluded: “The book is a memento. eBooks are mere moments.”
  • Kenneth M. wrote that “since I have begun reading eBooks, especially in a Kindle format, I’m reading much more. For me, it’s got something to do with the centralization of all my books in one spot.”
  • Jack P. wrote: “I have heard from friends outside the book industry and most of them are reading more. One went back and purchased the entire backlist of a few of his favorite authors. I probably am reading about the same. As with a lot of us in publishing, I have been reading 8-10 books at one time for the past 20 years. So my reading volume has not changed….”
  • Danielle S. wrote that “I’ve definitely been reading more fiction, but I’ve had the Kindle for almost a year and have yet to put a nonfiction book on it. I’ve continued to buy and read even narrative nonfiction in print because, once read, they become my reference materials. I want to easily flip through one and find the section on prehistoric human migration patterns, or King Joseph’s War, etc. The Kindle doesn’t provide the kind of natural back and forth within the text that is critical to my nonfiction reading.”
  • Lorraine H. wrote: “I’m reading more fiction, but almost all of my nonfiction is still in print, peppered with sticky notes and carefully filed by subject on my shelves for easy retrieval. Since I write nonfiction on a range of topics, my reference library is well used and up to date…. I find that fiction is great for ereading, especially fast page turners that are easy to pick up and put down, fit into a busy schedule. I find myself reading in short bursts at all times of the day now, rather than just a couple hours in the evening or on a weekend.”
  • Wolf H. wrote “I actually find that I read more nonfiction (business and history) books on my iPad than fiction. Case in point, I have two fiction books currently resting on my bedside table. There’s just something about owning a tangible version of a piece of literature. Like owning a piece of art, or getting your favorite album on vinyl.”
  • Anna J. wrote: “I’m an avid reader of three novels a week (at least) as well as a novelist publishing three novels a year. After a ten-hour day on the computer I don’t want to read eBooks because I’m sick of screens. Maybe if I were in a different job….”
  • Perry W. scribed that he reads more. “I buy more books that I probably wouldn’t have bought if they were paper because I don’t have to worry about recycling or other disposal.”
  • Mark W. wrote that “I bought a Sony E-Reader and got 100+ classics pre-installed. I’m emigrating later in the year and this allows me to sell off a lot of my library and thus reduce transport costs. I’m reading more at the moment certainly, but it seems that paper copies are in the majority 3-1 over the e-reader.”
  • Graeme H. wrote that like  many of the other members, he found himself reading more. “Owning a Kindle has meant buying books is only a click away. For some reason I still buy my favourite authors (fiction writers) in paperback, whether it is an excuse to go to a real book store and browse, it is something I enjoy doing and find relaxing.”
  • Larry T. wrote: “I find my self reading more with my Kindle. I rarely go to the Amazon store and buy one book. I go there with that intent but usually buy three or four. With two jobs, trial lawyer and author, my reading time is usually limited to an hour on the elliptical and maybe a half an hour at night. Kindle was made for aerobic machines.”
  • Michael J. wrote that “If possible, I’m reading more than ever. Most people still give me print books as gifts and I’m happy to read those. However, my preference is to buy an eBook if it is available.”

All in all, a very fascinating view of eBook readers.  For myself, I switch between reading a printed book and an eBook. I mostly read current books in print and use Project Gutenberg for downloading older books that I’ve always wanted to read.  I am a historian specializing in the 1865 to 1893 era, and I love that I can find books written during that era and can download them (free!) to my smartphone in the EPUB format. I do all of my eBook reading on my smartphone using eReader (PDB) or Freda (EPUB). I also read books in PDF.

I’d love to hear how reading ebooks has or has not changed your reading habits.

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Written by Larry S. Bonura

16 March 2011 at 05:09

Posted in Uncategorized

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