Americans haven’t ditched print books for e-books

I was ecstatic because I got to visit the famous Green Apple Books & Music store. It was actually featured in Publishers Weekly as the PW Bookstore of the Year in March. Needless to say I fangirled.

I was ecstatic because I got to visit the famous Green Apple Books & Music store. It was actually featured in Publishers Weekly as the PW Bookstore of the Year in March. Needless to say I fangirled.

Since visiting San Francisco last month and seeing bookstores that care for both patrons and wares, I’ve rediscovered my love for print books. In honor of the craft, I’ve been using electronic books, audiobooks and  print books. However, what are the preferences of other college-aged readers such as myself?

The question was prompted after I saw Teleread’s eye-catching infographic, “Keeping It Real.” The graphic illustrates “top reasons for choosing a real life, lo-fi, analogue, hardcopy book” over an e-book. Some reasons include the ability to feel it, handle it, share it or sell it. Some people even turn to print books so they can pose them. (“Pose them?” See book porn here and here.) However, the infographic results are based on a poll given to 1,000 “FatBrainers.”

According to Paul St. John Mackintosh, FatBrain is a “[United Kingdom] new-era second-hand book trading platform,” which means the results reflect a select UK audience, but what about general readers in the United States of America?

In a project titled “A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013,” Kathryn Zickuhr and Lee Rainie interviewed 1,005 Americans ages 18 and older, in both English and Spanish, and found that U.S. readers have not abandoned print books for e-books.

In general, the vast majority that consume e-books and audiobooks also read print books, although only 9% said they consumed books in all three formats. From the adults interviewed, “only 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.”

Zickuhr and Rainie found in general that 69% of American adults read at least one print book that year and 28% read at least one e-book that year. The rate for readers between ages 18 and 29 were higher, with 73% reading at least one print book that year and 37% reading at least one e-book that year. You can check the reading snapshot chart for more details on other age groups. In short, while e-books are gaining momentum, people have not abandoned print books.

What about you, dear reader? What is your preference? What influences your choice?


Invest in e-book covers

At some point in history, print books were transformed into the convenient electronic books we know today. The digital counterparts of books are formatted to read just like the print version. Most electronic readers let you “flip” pages, “highlight” passages, and browse through “book covers,” but what’s missing?

The experience changes depending on the device you use. You can read on your laptop with or without an application. If you don’t use an application, you’re most likely reading PDFs and the quality isn’t clear. If you use an application, like the Nook for PC or Kindle for PC, you have more assurance that the text will be clear and that you can manipulate it.

Reading software helps you interact with the e-book like a print book. It even helps you find things just by typing in a phrase. Apps changed the way I studied. However, I was still on the computer when I started reading e-books. I had to deal with a 15-inch screen of text. It wasn’t exactly the same as cuddling up with a book. Plus some of the book covers were so awful, they could deter the most dedicated reader from selecting that book.


Example of a boring book cover.

So you have an idea, the book covers were basically a block of color with basic text on them. While it accomplished the job of a book cover, giving you basic information, it didn’t make the product easy to digest.Then there are those books with generic pictures, as in completely different books using the same default picture, confusing the consumer. I found myself willing to spend money a little more money for decent looking book covers that had some sort of telling picture of what the story was about.

Usually, I scan covers for quick cues to tell me what the book is about. If I have 50 books with similar covers, it takes me longer to find a specific book. I feel e-book covers have not been invested in or developed as much as print book covers.

As a reader, I’m here to bring back the art of books and share notes on books in social media.

This post originally appeared on my Blogger.