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Is Your eReader Making you a Better Book Lover?

Is Your eReader Making you a Better Book Lover?

A new survey suggests that eReaders are helping the British read more often and read more widely. So does this mean we should all change our reading habits to reading on eReaders? As usual, it’s not quite as simple as that.

The fascinating survey, conducted by Quick Reads, which produces short books by well-known authors for those who are less confident when it comes to reading, shows that the average British reader is now spending about six hours a week reading. A third of respondents also said that thanks to eReaders they read for longer periods of time, with over 65s being the group using the most eReaders–19% compared to 12% of 18-24 year olds who, interestingly, were the lowest users of eReaders.

The survey also showed that eReaders might be broadening our taste in books. With the amount of free ebooks available, and the ease with which they can be accessed, around 62% of respondents said that they would read books they wouldn’t have otherwise read.

Why might this be? The survey really identifies a couple of reasons and they’re not that surprising. Among adult readers, 41% said that being able to simply touch the screen to look up words or phrases that were unfamiliar to them meant that reading using an electronic device was easier. Just more than half (51%) of respondents said that being able to increase text size also meant they favored eReaders.

All that said, paperback or hardback books remain the most favored vehicle for reading with (61%) of people choosing physical books compared to 15% using an eReader.

The Quick Reads survey wasn’t all positive though. On wider topics of reading habits it found that one in five adults don’t read for pleasure (22%), while men read less than women. Moreover, more than a third (37%) of 18-24 year-olds say they don’t read for pleasure at all. That’s terribly sad.

Yet, the people behind Quick Reads believe that eReaders create an ideal opportunity for those who haven’t read much in the past, have difficulty reading, or who are still learning English. Cathy Rentzenbrink, project director of Quick Reads, is quoted as saying: “The potential impact of technology on less confident readers is tremendous… [E-reading] allows adult learners to engage with books on their own terms, aiding their learning and boosting their confidence too.”

To be clear, this is a small and non-scientific survey, but the reasons why people may prefer eReaders have cropped up in scientific literature. For instance, there have been studies that have demonstrated that, for those with dyslexia, eReaders can make reading much easier because of the ability to customize the reading experience, such as by widening the spacing between text. Other studies have shown that eReaders may help those with Attention Deficit Disorder because, again, they can customize their reading experiences.

That’s not to say that all studies into eReaders have been positive. There is some research to say that print may still be best for comprehension, though that might be a generational thing as we’re still in a transitional phase between people that grew up with paperback verses people who are now growing up with easy access to digital eReaders. There’s also the fact that eReaders still cannot compete with paper or hardback books for those who enjoy the feel of a good book between their fingers.

Still, for a long time now there’s been a kind of battle going on between the two mediums and we might feel the pressure to pick a side: eReaders or physical books. Yet there’s something here that we can all agree on. Books are wonderful. It doesn’t matter the format so long as people are reading, because studies show that reading makes us better people. So, an eReader might not make you a better book lover, but it could provide someone who previously didn’t enjoy books the opportunity to fall in love with literature, which for my money is a gift beyond measure.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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53 comments

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12:35PM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

ty

10:12AM PDT on Mar 26, 2014

I much prefer real books.

7:15PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

I use an e-reader but still love the feel and page turning of a real book.

2:17PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

ty

4:48PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

(continued) When I -have- to pick up a paper book, I immediately miss my kindle. I miss the light, at exactly the right angle and brightness. I miss the light weight. I miss the dictionary! I miss being able to start a new book just by pushing a couple of buttons. I miss being able to change font size. I miss underlining freely, without first having to remember if this book is borrowed, or having to keep a pencil handy.

There are a few disadvantages to kindles. You can't give away your books, after you're finished with them. You have to be more careful about dropping them, or even thumping them. It's a big(ger) deal if you accidentally leave it behind somewhere. And there's the possibility that (gasp) you may run out of battery or it might quit working and LEAVE YOU WITHOUT ANYTHING TO READ@

But I love my kindle and don't want to live without it! It is, believe me, the ONLY reason I'm able to get rid of even a few of my beloved books...

4:43PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

I'm an avid reader, and have been since my older sister taught me to read (she was home sick from school for a couple weeks, and got bored). I was in my late teens before I realized that unlike my parents, who were always trying to get me to put down my book and go do something else, other kids' parents tried to get them to read MORE! Any public library within reach of my bike quickly got to know me and allowed me to ignore any limits there might have been on the number of books loaned in one go - I got a backpack full, every time I went, at least once a week.

Now, I live in another country, with another language, but I'm lazy and prefer to read in English, which precludes going to the library. Paper books, especially in English, are expensive (even 2nd hand ones), so I read and reread the books I had-which is nothing new, as there weren't always libraries within reach of my bike.

Almost three years ago, my husband (who used to tease me that we needed a new house, just for our books) got me a kindle, with a cover that included a pop-out lamp. My world changed. Whoever designed kindles had me in mind. For the first month, I reached up to turn the page (of the kindle) as I read, but eventually I learned to push the button. I'm slowly (very slowly!) getting rid of hundreds of paper books, as I inch my way towards a clutter-free home. We're almost down to only one row of books on each book shelf, a state of affairs I couldn't have imagined without the kindle.

When I -ha

11:31AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

There's plenty of room in the world for both. The point is for folks to enjoy reading, in whatever form they prefer.

10:26AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

I love traditional books and keep reading them

8:07PM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

I don't have one, I prefer the paper ones even if ebooks would be a bit cheaper

4:55PM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

Probably yet another area where no one approach is right for all

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