The art of (e)reading
By Morgan on April 4th, 2012
We’re only a few years into the ereading and ebook boom, and yet already it’s seeped into our culture. Ereading has become a fact of life for a large percentage of the reading public. But what, exactly, does that mean? As books themselves change, is the concept of “reader’ broadening? Who’s reading ebooks, and why? And how do our reading habits change as a result?
All of this and more is analyzed in a new study, just released this evening, from the Pew Internet Project, part of the Pew Research Center. They say “21% of Americans have read an ebook,” and, perhaps most interestingly, that those who have “stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers.”
We’ve talked about ebooks and ereaders on OOM often, including about the differences we’ve noticed, personally, when it comes to how we read digital content. And of course, Scholastic has conducted its own research on kids and reading, like the Kids and Family Reading Report, and has even launched our own ereading app, Storia, for kids and families. It’s safe to say we are firmly entrenched in the conversation.
Some anecdotal evidence that’s always stuck out is that those of us who use ereaders are still purchasing physical books – particularly books we love, or those we plan on sharing with our families or giving as gifts. The Pew study noticed that trend, too. In fact, a majority of people surveyed say that they still consider physical books to be better than ebooks when it comes to specific activities: 81% agree that printed books are best for reading with a child, and 69% agree they’re best for sharing books with other people:
Would you agree? If you have an ereader, do you read to your child with it?
What’s most interesting to me about those stats is that they indicate that we may be creating new categories of books: those we want to purchase digitally, and those we’ll always want to purchase in printed format. Does that mean we’ll be valuing them differently? Does that mean we’ll begin valuing the time we spend reading them differently?
Well, I don’t know. I just know that the psychology behind ereading, and the ways it could be changing us, is fascinatingly complicated. Maybe ereading will end up changing the concept of reading entirely, as more and more digital content gets folded in or as more platforms begin blending into new things we’ve only just begun imagining. All I know at this point is that I’m thrilled about the possibilities ahead, and what it means for kids and reading.
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