The impact of technology: trends in e-book reading

A survey commissioned by Publishing Technology in August 2014 found that out of 3,000 consumers across the US and UK, 43 per cent have read an e-book – or part of an e-book – on their mobile device and that 66 per cent of mobile phone book readers currently read more on their phones than they did in 2013.

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Perhaps publishers need to shift their focus away from investment on print, tablets and dedicated e-readers as the main reading channels for their content and consider mobile devices as a significant route of content delivery? To put this into context, the market for smartphones has grown considerably from 53 million in 2006 to a projected 2.4 billion in 2015. At the same time, recent estimates suggest that over the same period Amazon has sold just over 20 million Kindle devices.

However, despite the mobile phone’s overall growth in appeal and popularity over the Kindle as a reading device, the survey discovered that readers (particularly in the UK) tend to read on their handsets fairly infrequently and in much shorter bursts compared to the amount of time they would spend reading printed books or e-books on tablets.

Is smartphone access to core text e-books important to students? Do publishers provide adequate provision for smartphone access to their content? “Reading behaviour” and “Discovery” are two of the key themes of the literature review we are undertaking for the Books Right Here Right Now project and these are just a couple of the questions that the review will consider.

photo credit: theunquietlibrary via photopin cc

4 thoughts on “The impact of technology: trends in e-book reading

  1. My immediate feeling after reading this is that many lecturers would probably not encourage their students to access key course readings on their phone if they were to assimilate the content in any meaningful way. Surely the content of good HE textbooks isn’t designed to be used in this way and wouldn’t students always benefit more from looking at the book on either larger e-readers (ipads and the like ) or in print – certainly many texts nowadays have important pedagogical features designed to enhance learning and understanding that would be wholly lost if looked at on a small mobile screen. I also feel it important to say that I think academic publishers’ main focus is always the quality and rigour of the content they produce and their main thrust is to ensure the authors they have and the books they publish into the market are well received and well thought of in their field as opposed to plowing money into the format in which this content is presented. I feel that all academic publishers are judged, at the end of the day, on the quality of their resources and this is why academics chose to use certain books over others – not because they look good on a particular type of e-reader or indeed a mobile phone. You pay for the quality of the content not the paper it is printed on. Students reading habits are changing beyond recognition but the type of information they need in order to succeed on whatever course they are doing has not.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Rebecca – this is a really interesting area and one that we are looking into. We have collected some data on our students’ attitudes to using mobile devices and will be writing something on this shortly so hopefully we can continue this discussion.

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