Survey Shows E-Books Make Americans Read More

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Amazon Kindle Fire e-book reader. (Image: kodomut, via Flickr / CC)

Not only are e-books becoming more and more popular; apparently, they also serve as an effective encouragement for reading among adult Americans.

According to a new research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “one-fifth of American adults (21%) report that they have read an e-book in the past year”.

Accordingly, if the age bracket broadened to over 16 years old for Americans who have used an electronic device or application for reading news articles or magazine features, the statistic hiked up to 43 percent.

Pew found that readers of electronic books are more likely to read than those who read materials in print. Consequently, they read more books. An average reader of e-books read 24 books in the past year, whereas one who does not read books by electronic means only read 15 books.

Moreover, a third of the people who read electronic contents report that the time they spend for reading has now increased compared to the time before e-books. This applies particularly for those who have tablet computers and are e-book readers.

This could prove beneficial for the economy. Pew says that e-book users 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.”

Last year, two of the most popular gift items for the holidays were e-readers and tablet computers. At present, apart from those who read e-books on their smartphones or through an iPod Touch app, people who own at least one tablet or one e-book reader comprise 28 percent of Americans of age 18 years and above.

However, it was also noteworthy that readers who go for e-book tend to start looking for books online. This is not much of good news to brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Though reading materials in print still rules the consumer market, it may not be for long. According to Pew’s findings, almost 75% of U.S. adults read the printed materials in 2011 and an 11% of them listened to an audiobook.

According to the report, people who want fast purchasing of books and easy portability for travelling prefer to use e-books. However, people who read to children form the majority of the print book patronage.

“E-book readers and tablet computers are finding their place in the rhythms of readers’ lives,” says Kathryn Zickuhr, one of the report’s authors, in a statement. “But printed books still server as the physical currency when people want to share the stories they love.”

When people want to lend or borrow books, the print material is usually the first go-to. That does not come as much of a surprise. Not long ago, author Dave Taylor expounded a step-by-step on how to borrow a Kindle Book from a public library. However, it is not very difficult, simply walking into the library and picking out the book from the shelf is still considerably easier.

The survey also says that e-books are more preferable by readers over printed ones for reading in bed.

On the other hand, the survey notes that around 20 percent of U.S. adults say they have not read even one book for the past year. In general, people who do not have electronic reading devices are less likely to read anything at all.

Furthermore, almost 20 percent of Americans aged 16 years and above experienced “physical or health conditions that made reading difficult or challenging.” A majority of these people are either older, unemployed or have low income and about a quarter of them are over the age of 50. However, one thing good about e-book and audiobook technology is that it increases the accessibility of written materials. For instance, people with vision defects or problems could adjust the font, font size, contrast, and other visibility factors in most electronic reading devices in order to make reading easier for them. Moreover, these gadgets usually have text-to-speech technology that they can listen to, rather than read the text. Although the delivery may not be up to desired standards, the option is not so bad at all, especially if reading is rather hard. It can even be helpful, particularly for people who have limited literacy.

Prices of devices for e-reading keep on decreasing that it is not very impossible for companies like Amazon.com to give basic e-readers for free in a matter of two or three years.

As the price of these gadgets go lower, people who have been rather left behind in the digital progress of accessing information will have more chances of conquering the gap and be able to access the same amount of information, entertainment and education as with people who have normal vision and higher income.

The written word has always been a key to gaining power in human civilizations, even in the ancient times. Even though e-books have started out as a new and interesting means of reading for the “techno forward”, they could prove to be an effective balancer in gaining knowledge, defying the obstacles of ability, resources and education.

 

Source: CNN | CNET | Pew


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. His work appears on SocialBarrel.com and several other websites, covering social media, technology and other niches.

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