Time to Embrace The E-Book?

A slew of articles have recently been published heralding the undying love readers hold for their print books. They celebrate the longevity of physical formats in the face of the ever-encroaching threat of e-books. Hidden within these optimistic statistics, however, is a general decline in overall readership.

Why be so concerned about the health of print books as opposed to e-books, when the greater concern is that we all need to be reading more? In a time when more people are becoming authors than ever before thanks to the advent of digital self-publishing, it would seem to make more sense to embrace the changes and help the developing e-book market get people reading again. Publishers, however, seem to be taking steps, instead, to push print books, even if it means sacrificing overall readership. Only 44% of Americans, according to a recent survey, were aware that e-books were offered at libraries. Were they to check e-books out, they’d be confronted with much more restrictive lending policies.

It’s interesting to look at this phenomena. As an avid reader, I too rejoice when I hear of the success of print publishing. I love my books! More important than that, however, is reading the literature within. Perhaps insistence on prioritizing print publishing on behalf of publishers is ultimately counter-intuitive, seeing as how it’s undercutting the potential growth through e-books. 

A recent report on the people who do read e-books also reveals some very interesting information. Turns out that e-book readers tend to read more books a year than print exclusive readers. The report, entitled The Rise of Digital Reading, states:


Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work and school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general.

Publishers need to begin reassessing how to continue attracting readers in these changing times.


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