Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One-Third of All E-Readers Are Rejected by Readers


In my werk-a-day life in scholarly publishing I have a vested interest in eReaders.  Since I'd like to, one day, retire from this job, I'd like us to keep on the outer edge of ways of delivering our content to consumers.  I may never own an eReader, but that doesn't mean I don't want our content to be compatible or sold through eReader channels.

I've test-driven a Kindle and while I thought it had potential, it wasn't for me.  I grew up reading print on paper and turning pages from start to finish, watching my progress grow by varying degrees of thickness on the left-hand side of the book.

The Digital Reader blog recently reported that over one-third of all eReaders are used once and then set them aside, never to be used again, a statistic I find fascinating.  Not only are eReaders a substantial financial investment, but it points to two possible ideas:

  • People don't have time/want to make the time to read, even if given an incentive like an eReader
  • People simply prefer to read paper-bound volumes instead of pixels on a display screen

(This seems at odds with a statement in the article regarding those who used the device only once: "25%...were among the Luddite minority who preferred to read with paper books.")

One of the many lessons in the move from vinyl to compact disc as the primary music delivery system -- and from CD to mp3 -- is that the newest, latest, and greatest format will cause some people to announce the extinction of the earlier format(s).  Another lesson is that that viewpoint is wholly inaccurate.  

New vinyl is hard to come by, but it is still being pressed.  There are people who still prefer the 'warmth' of sound that vinyl has over digital and still want to listen to those albums that have never been converted to digital.  The market is still there, the customers are still willing to purchase content on the older format.

The real challenge for publishers -- regardless of the medium -- is to focus on content and the ease of delivery of that content in whatever format the public is willing to support.

I'm not giving up my printed books anytime soon, just as I'm not giving up my vinyl collection.  I also don't think I'll need to do either within my lifetime.

What do you think?  Do you agree/disagree?  Do you use an eReader?  Why or why not?

-- Tom