The publishing world was turned upside down when the first e-books appeared 15 – 20 years ago. The Kindle e-reader was not the first, but it is until now the most famous e-reader and helped Amazon to built their e-book imperium. When you check out the 2015 e-book reader rating, one of the many Kindle types that are now on the market, the Voyage, is the “Gold Award Winner #1” for 2015. #2 is the NOOK GlowLight, then the Kobo Aura H20, and then another Kindle, the Paperwhite. At least in North America these are the most popular e-readers. In Europe it looks a bit different, at least in Germany, the Tolino is on its way to surpass the Kindle.
Contrary to early predictions, not the e-reader – but the smartphone will be driving the future e-book sales.
Tablets such as the iPad or the Kindle Fire are currently the most popular (41%) platform to read e-books, 11 % more than three years ago, but 3% less than last year. However it’s not e-readers that will be driving future books sales, it’s the phone. But people who read primarily on phones has risen to 14% in the first quarter of 2015 – from 9% in 2012, according to a Nielsen survey. And about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books sometimes.
Meanwhile, those reading mainly on e-readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, decreased over the same period to 32% from 50%. Wattpad, the serial publishing platform, explains that phones are encouraging people to read more. 90% of their 40 million monthly users read on mobile devices. Nearly two-thirds of respondents who read on their phones said they do it, because they didn’t have their e-reader or tablet with them.
Reasons to Read on the Phone
It might be convenience. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store or the bus stop, waiting at the doctors or dentists office or riding home on the subway, you may not have a print book or an e-reader or tablet with you. But chances are, you are carrying a smartphone. And I have even seen people reading on their smartphones while pushing their baby’s strollers or walking their dog in the park – where certainly audiobook would be much more appropriate and practical. Around 65% of American adults now own a smartphone, and predictions are that in a couple of years it will be over 80%
The size and clarity of new smartphone models, are making e-book reading easier – if you have good eyes I might add. The release of the iPhone 6 series, Apple has seen an increase in the number of people downloading books through its iBooks app. And among all new Amazon customers using Kindles or the Kindle app, phone readers are by far the fastest-growing segment.
Free Reading on SmartPhones at Trains and Airports
Publishers are now experimenting with ways to make themobile-reading experience better. They are designing book jackets with smartphone screens in mind. Simon &Schuster for example offers free e-books at hotels and airport lounges in New York, California, Missouri, Florida, Texas and Hawaii. Users can read as much of each book as they like forfree, while they stay within the prescribed geographical area. And Penguin Random House introduced free excerpts of e-books on Amtrak’s Acela Express trains. Online e-book retailers, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Barnes&Noble offer smartphone apps for e-book reading. They automatically sync all devices linked to the same account, so a reader can open an e-book on her phone and pick up exactly where she left off the night before on her e-reader or tablet.
The literary world is divided over whether a phone can deliver the experience of deep, concentrated reading. Scholars who study the subject note that smartphones are an important part of the effort to improve literacy in developing countries where books and computers are out of reach for many people. Reading on a phone is better than not reading at all, these experts all agree.
Drawbacks of Phone Reading
A neuroscientist who studies the reading brain: “For most people, a phone will make concentrated reading more difficult – if not impossible. It’s not as easy to share an e-book with friends as you can with print books. Many people still read in print part of the time. If deep, concentrated reading is possible despite the ringing, buzzing and alerts that come with phones – I am not sure. Phones will certainly not replace print books altogether. However, one should stop worrying about how other people are reading, and be glad that they are reading at all.
Phone Tips for eBook Readers
The blogger at EbookFriendly advises: “The underestimated power of smartphones is that they are great testing devices. If you want to try ebooks, it doesn’t mean you have to immediately buy a Kindle. Just get a free Kindle application for you mobile phone and you’ll learn – in no time – about all advantages of ebook reading. Standard features of book reading applications are:
- customization of font size and typeface
- themes or backgrounds to choose from (at least day and night mode)
- text highlighting, note taking, bookmarks
- dictionary and reference
- instant access to ebooks stored in your cloud library
- syncing bookmarks and latest read locations
- ability to add your own books
Book reading apps usually let you discover new books within the app. The exception is iOS, where this quite obvious feature is offered only by the Apple’s e-reading app iBooks. Find more tips on his blog. Smartphones are multi-purpose devices. Reading ebooks will never be their primary purpose. But they are extremely helpful in extending book reading to “not planned” places and circumstances.” Read the article here.
What About Audiobooks?
The question is whether the phone is appropriate for long-form reading, if other options are available. Audiobooks are certainly an even better way of “reading” as you can listen to your favored book – hands-free – even if you are exercising in the gym or do intense gardening. I personally love listening to audiobooks, especially on long road trips, when discerning radio stations are not available and I have listened too many times to the same CD’s. In many cases, audiobooks have also proven successful in helping students to access literature and enjoy books.
The best phone screens are listed in a Cnet.com article
Why digital reading before sleeping is not a good idea
How to conserve your smartphone battery