Friday, November 13, 2015


An anecdote is not necessarily a datum, and all that. So this is just an observation I found interesting. I was doing a Q&A with a university creative writing class this week, and midway through the professor asked a question of his own: how many of the students read e-books on any media, from Kindles to iPads? Out of around twenty, only three raised their hands.

The New York Times recently reported that e-book sales have fallen in the first part of this year, suggesting that the survival of printed books isn't as precarious as once thought. Certainly, those students, all of them digital natives and presumably a target audience for purveyors of e-books, prefer the printed page. It wasn't the time and place to go into any detail as to why, but for authors who, like me, are putting some or all of their back list* out as self-published e-books, it is interesting. Who is the audience? One survey suggests that e-book consumption 'seems to be a habit acquired after the age of 24.' Are we missing out on a rising generation of readers, who think that e-books are no substitute for printed books, which don't need expensive devices to read them, and can be bought cheaply secondhand?

*See the blog's sidebar for links to short stories, short story collections, and two novels that fell out of print.


Blogger Moz said...

I think your second point probably dominates. Libraries and second hand shops still cater mostly to paper books, and with ebooks the reading experience for someone who doesn't have a proper e-reader is still poor. As well, pirating ebooks is just not well organised, it's hard to find a particular recent release that's readable, in contrast to music and film where it's commonly "see the release announcement, find the torrent". Which means until someone has the disposable income to buy a device and a supply of new books, paper much better.

November 13, 2015 9:01 pm  
Blogger Max Kaehn said...

There also may be the "I'm running out of bookshelf space" factor to spur ebook adoption. Hard to get to that point while you're that young.

November 14, 2015 9:17 am  
Blogger Al said...

I agree with Max and Moz. My big push to ebooks was when the Kindle e-ink devices went mainstream and that fact that I owned over 8,000 books and needed to get rid of most of them, not add more paper into my house (I'm 44 now).

November 24, 2015 9:44 pm  

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