In the last 5 years a transformation has taken place in the way we read books. A fundamental part of our education as a child and a regular activity in many adults’ daily life, picking up a book to read allows us to learn new information or simply use it as a getaway from reality.
The introduction of the Amazon Kindle in 2007 paved the new generation of e-book readers and encouraged individuals to approach a new way to an age old method. Many avid book readers claimed to not like the idea of no longer having the physical copy of the book. Yet by the end of 2010 Amazon announced that in the USA, e-book sales were surpassing sales of paperback books for the first time.
But what do you think?
We surveyed 1000 people about their opinions regarding e-books, e-book readers and the ‘death of the book’.
- Just over 40% of our respondents claimed to have read an e-book at some point
- Whilst 26% stated that they owned some form of e-book reader (a device designed specifically to read e-books e.g. a Kindle).
Positives of an e-book
Those that did own an e-book reader chose its lightweight design and the ability to have their whole back catalogue of books in one place as the best things about having e-book reader. These advantages certainly set the e-book apart from the traditional physical book and make competition between the two, nigh on impossible.
Death of the book as we know it?
But do people think that the introduction and growing uptake of e-book reading devices mean that the physical book will die out? The American novelist Jonathan Franzen told reporters at a recent conference that he believed e-books ‘threatened the sense of permanence found in the printed book’.
- Our survey showed however, that only 30% of people surveyed believed that eventually households will be book-free.
The Observer journalist Henry Porter writes in his article discussing Franzen’s apparent stringent viewpoint, that perhaps Franzen’s main issue is that readers today are too shallow. Nevertheless, Porter argues that ‘if a book is good, it will earn the effort and reflection’ that it deserves and it seems that our respondents also are unsure of the impact of the e-book.
- A third of respondents stated that e-books would have a positive impact on peoples reading habits however, 29% said that actually they did not believe it would.
- A further 38% were unsure as to what effect, if any, e-books would have on reading habits, perhaps highlighting that the idea that e-books could dominate modern day reading habits is not necessarily a given.
Children and books
Reflecting on the point made in the introduction regarding the importance of books within a child’s education, the survey asked respondents to consider whether they would purchase an e-book reader for their child.
- Whilst 49% said yes they would consider buying one for their child, 45% said they would not, believing it’s more important for their child to have access to actual books instead.
- Incidentally, the remaining 6% were those who have already purchased an e-book reader for their child. These stats could add strength to Porters point that people do still seem to value the importance of the physical book, especially when it comes to their children.
E-books and the future
So whilst some think e-books spell the end for the physical book, it appears that the majority don’t think the use of a physical book will ever die out. Perhaps the fear associated with the e-book may become a reality or perhaps like DVDs/videos were to cinema it will be unfounded and the two can find a way to live in harmony.
But what do you think…..?