E-books are increasing reading

E-books and e-readers are increasing the amount of reading that is going on.  People who get a Kindle are reading more than they used to, including reading books that aren’t electronic.

A fifth of American adults have read an electronic version of a book in the last year, a trend that is fueling a renewed love of reading, according to a new survey.

The portion of e-book readers among all American adults has increased to 21 percent from 17 percent between December and February, due in large part to a boom in tablet and e-reader sales this past holiday season.

All those devices are turning some consumers into super readers, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. E-book readers plowed through an average of 24 titles in the past year, compared with an average of 15 for readers of physical books.

“Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers . . . They are avid readers of books in all formats,” said Lee Rainie, director of research at Pew.

Curiously, e-reading somehow sparks a love of books in any format. Even as e-readers are downloading books on computers, tablets and smartphones, they are also checking out more books at libraries and buying more at bookstores and online. About nine in 10 e-book readers said they have also read printed books in the past year, Pew reported in its survey of about 3,000 people 16 and older.

via Survey finds e-readers are spurring consumers of books in all formats – The Washington Post.

I find that happening with me.  I read a lot, of course, as a literature teacher and someone who wants to keep up with things.  But ever since my wife gave me a Kindle–which as an old-school print guy I was skeptical of at first– I find myself reading much more for fun (bringing back pleasures that got me into the literature profession in the first place).  I can crank up the type-size so that I can read on the treadmill (which re-enforces that good habit I’m trying to cultivate) and instead of aimless surfing on the computer or watching television, I am now reading novels. Also books don’t cost as much when you download them, further liberating my reading impulses.

What I’m enjoying is not novels of ambitious literary merit–that’s more like work–but books that give me an interesting imaginative experience.  They have to be well-written with a certain measure of complexity, otherwise they can’t hold my attention, so genre fiction and bestseller fare doesn’t always do it for me.  But I’ve found some gems that I think I’ll be blogging about.

By the way, with my Kindle I’ve signed up for Amazon Prime, giving me the ability to “check out” books from Amazon’s virtual library for free.  Unfortunately, the pickings seem pretty slim.  I did find a couple of excellent reads:  Moneyball and Hunger Games.   (More on the latter later.)  If anyone has found other good books in that library–ones that meet my criteria–I’d be glad to learn about them.

Anyway, if you have broken down and bought an e-reader, has this “kindled” your reading?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.quietedwaters.com Josh

    I’ve been amazed at the increase in reading I’ve seen on public transportation. Where people previously tuned out the world with their iPods, often dozing, now probably a quarter of commuters are reading Kindles, Nooks, or iPads on their way to and from work.

    I personally love the Kindle for traveling. Rather than hauling two or three books in my suitcase, I can carry dozens of books on my Kindle.

  • http://www.quietedwaters.com Josh

    I’ve been amazed at the increase in reading I’ve seen on public transportation. Where people previously tuned out the world with their iPods, often dozing, now probably a quarter of commuters are reading Kindles, Nooks, or iPads on their way to and from work.

    I personally love the Kindle for traveling. Rather than hauling two or three books in my suitcase, I can carry dozens of books on my Kindle.

  • Tom Hering

    Apart from the pros and cons of e-readers, they’re another “glass teat” (Harlan Ellison). Phones, computers, and televisions have conditioned us to seek pleasure – including reading pleasure – from screens. Maybe a renaissance of art appreciation is next, when framed wall screens, and subscriptions to libraries of digital art images, become available. Think of how much more “alive” the Rubens paintings look on this blog, viewed as direct light from a screen, than they do as reflected light from a page or print.

  • Tom Hering

    Apart from the pros and cons of e-readers, they’re another “glass teat” (Harlan Ellison). Phones, computers, and televisions have conditioned us to seek pleasure – including reading pleasure – from screens. Maybe a renaissance of art appreciation is next, when framed wall screens, and subscriptions to libraries of digital art images, become available. Think of how much more “alive” the Rubens paintings look on this blog, viewed as direct light from a screen, than they do as reflected light from a page or print.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Brings in business for me :D

    Seriously, though, technology is a tool, a means to an end; not an end in and of itself. Those who like to read will do so, whether or not they own an E-reader. Mrs. J. Dean owns one, which I occassionally borrow, but beyond that I still pick up the paperbacks.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Brings in business for me :D

    Seriously, though, technology is a tool, a means to an end; not an end in and of itself. Those who like to read will do so, whether or not they own an E-reader. Mrs. J. Dean owns one, which I occassionally borrow, but beyond that I still pick up the paperbacks.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    BTW Tom @2, his atheism aside, Ellison is a skilled writer.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    BTW Tom @2, his atheism aside, Ellison is a skilled writer.

  • Amy

    Have you asked your local library if you can check out Kindle books from them? My library does, but as you said, I found the pickings pretty slim. But I certainly read more since I got an e-reader. I don’t know if Amazon does this (I think they do), but Barnes & Noble will allow you to download a free sample before you buy the book — that’s been a big thing with me. A lot of times a book that sounds like a good idea will end up being really poorly written, so the sample feature has been wonderful. And B&N offers a free book every Friday, so I download those almost indiscriminately unless the week’s offering is a romance. I love my e-reader!

  • Amy

    Have you asked your local library if you can check out Kindle books from them? My library does, but as you said, I found the pickings pretty slim. But I certainly read more since I got an e-reader. I don’t know if Amazon does this (I think they do), but Barnes & Noble will allow you to download a free sample before you buy the book — that’s been a big thing with me. A lot of times a book that sounds like a good idea will end up being really poorly written, so the sample feature has been wonderful. And B&N offers a free book every Friday, so I download those almost indiscriminately unless the week’s offering is a romance. I love my e-reader!

  • WebMonk

    From a more technical standpoint, it’s also possible that it is the more avid readers who have picked up e-readers, and so the effect seen is either merely a coincidence or is significantly outsized compared to what the effect will be as e-readers eventually become the default instead of paper books.

    That’s just my knee-jerk reaction to a poor handling of the surveys, though. I suspect there is a genuine increase in reading due to e-readers. Having a million books available at once would probably increase reading (almost) regardless of the technology used to deliver the books. In most cases, just having more of X easily available will increase consumption of X – basic economics.

    In this case its reading.

  • WebMonk

    From a more technical standpoint, it’s also possible that it is the more avid readers who have picked up e-readers, and so the effect seen is either merely a coincidence or is significantly outsized compared to what the effect will be as e-readers eventually become the default instead of paper books.

    That’s just my knee-jerk reaction to a poor handling of the surveys, though. I suspect there is a genuine increase in reading due to e-readers. Having a million books available at once would probably increase reading (almost) regardless of the technology used to deliver the books. In most cases, just having more of X easily available will increase consumption of X – basic economics.

    In this case its reading.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It has increased my reading. I’ve got a small library on my smart phone, and now while I wait for meetings to start (or finish), I can browse through my pulp fiction at leisure.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It has increased my reading. I’ve got a small library on my smart phone, and now while I wait for meetings to start (or finish), I can browse through my pulp fiction at leisure.

  • Carolyn

    Having a Kindle has definitely increased my reading. I probably fell into the category of ‘lapsed avid reader’ before I got my Kindle. Reading took a back seat to managing a house and my favorite hobby, knitting. It’s rare that a day goes by now that I don’t use the Kindle’s text-to-speech feature to listen to a book while I knit. It’s so much better than an audiobook, for me, because I can switch back and forth between reading and listening. I’ve read more print books in the past year than usual as well.

  • Carolyn

    Having a Kindle has definitely increased my reading. I probably fell into the category of ‘lapsed avid reader’ before I got my Kindle. Reading took a back seat to managing a house and my favorite hobby, knitting. It’s rare that a day goes by now that I don’t use the Kindle’s text-to-speech feature to listen to a book while I knit. It’s so much better than an audiobook, for me, because I can switch back and forth between reading and listening. I’ve read more print books in the past year than usual as well.

  • SKPeterson

    Count me as the Luddite here, I guess. If God had meant for us to read on screens, He would have created 21″ flat panel displays and standard document formatting software to render books in print. If it was good enough for Grandpa, it’s good enough for me.

  • SKPeterson

    Count me as the Luddite here, I guess. If God had meant for us to read on screens, He would have created 21″ flat panel displays and standard document formatting software to render books in print. If it was good enough for Grandpa, it’s good enough for me.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Instead, SK, God invented the printing press, Smythe-sewn bindings, and Amazon… :-)

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Instead, SK, God invented the printing press, Smythe-sewn bindings, and Amazon… :-)

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Started George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire all over again. I found that going on the web as I read helped keep track of some of the characters of that fictional world. I tend to use the e readers for fun. For weightier things I prefer a tome. In my hands. Chemnitz did not work for me in electronic form.

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Started George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire all over again. I found that going on the web as I read helped keep track of some of the characters of that fictional world. I tend to use the e readers for fun. For weightier things I prefer a tome. In my hands. Chemnitz did not work for me in electronic form.

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Increasing reading…perhaps.
    Increasing sales of books…most definitely!

    I know that in my own case, I’m reading more and buying more fiction than I have in years, due to the Kindle.

    I find the reading experience on Kindle to be every bit as enjoyable as book, in fact, in some ways, more.

    Let me list the reasons:

    Portability. I can carry around with me literally thousands of books, and on a practical level, I can have with me the five to ten books I’m reading at any given moment, with out having five or ten physical books.

    Omnipresence. I can have all these books “with me” wherever my iPhone goes, which is everywhere, all the time. That would be impractical if I did not have it.

    Ease of reading. With the cover with the light, I can read anywhere, under any lighting conditions, without bothering anyone turning on a light. The battery life of the Kindle is really quite astounding, even if I do my most reading with the light on.

  • Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Increasing reading…perhaps.
    Increasing sales of books…most definitely!

    I know that in my own case, I’m reading more and buying more fiction than I have in years, due to the Kindle.

    I find the reading experience on Kindle to be every bit as enjoyable as book, in fact, in some ways, more.

    Let me list the reasons:

    Portability. I can carry around with me literally thousands of books, and on a practical level, I can have with me the five to ten books I’m reading at any given moment, with out having five or ten physical books.

    Omnipresence. I can have all these books “with me” wherever my iPhone goes, which is everywhere, all the time. That would be impractical if I did not have it.

    Ease of reading. With the cover with the light, I can read anywhere, under any lighting conditions, without bothering anyone turning on a light. The battery life of the Kindle is really quite astounding, even if I do my most reading with the light on.

  • helen

    John @ 10
    April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am
    Instead, SK, God invented the printing press, Smythe-sewn bindings, and Amazon…

    You must admit, John, that the printing press came along at a most convenient time, for Luther. 8-^)

  • helen

    John @ 10
    April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am
    Instead, SK, God invented the printing press, Smythe-sewn bindings, and Amazon…

    You must admit, John, that the printing press came along at a most convenient time, for Luther. 8-^)

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Shopping for clothes with my wife is far less painful with the ability to read books on my phone. :)

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    Shopping for clothes with my wife is far less painful with the ability to read books on my phone. :)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know if I’m reading more or not. But I do have a Kindle, and I love the fact that I can get all the classics for free or cheap. Read “Father Brown” recently. And have down loaded a bunch of Karl May books hard to even find in the U.S. Actually started reading the works of Josephus, which I’ve owned forever but found to be tedious to read because of the size of the collected works I picked up used. At best it was there for a reference. Now, I have no trouble reading that. This morning I downloaded Tacitus. And I’m leary beccause I’ll tend to buy a book for 2-5 dollars rather than go for the free one just to get the added navigational features. And I’m afraid their nickle and diming me to death! but lots of great reading.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don’t know if I’m reading more or not. But I do have a Kindle, and I love the fact that I can get all the classics for free or cheap. Read “Father Brown” recently. And have down loaded a bunch of Karl May books hard to even find in the U.S. Actually started reading the works of Josephus, which I’ve owned forever but found to be tedious to read because of the size of the collected works I picked up used. At best it was there for a reference. Now, I have no trouble reading that. This morning I downloaded Tacitus. And I’m leary beccause I’ll tend to buy a book for 2-5 dollars rather than go for the free one just to get the added navigational features. And I’m afraid their nickle and diming me to death! but lots of great reading.

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  • Tom Hering

    Bror, get ready to be nickel-and-dimed to death with home viewing of movies, too.

    http://news.moviefone.com/2012/04/03/streaming-movies-overtake-dvd-sales_n_1401389.html

  • Tom Hering

    Bror, get ready to be nickel-and-dimed to death with home viewing of movies, too.

    http://news.moviefone.com/2012/04/03/streaming-movies-overtake-dvd-sales_n_1401389.html

  • cattail

    I do very little reading on the computer. I find that after an hour or so my vision blurs and I start seeing spots! I check out articles and, of course, blogs like yours, but for anything lengthy I need the printed page!

    Besides, if I fall asleep reading a book (which I often do) and the book falls on the floor, no big deal. With an electronic device, that could be a different story! Even worse in the bathtub!

  • cattail

    I do very little reading on the computer. I find that after an hour or so my vision blurs and I start seeing spots! I check out articles and, of course, blogs like yours, but for anything lengthy I need the printed page!

    Besides, if I fall asleep reading a book (which I often do) and the book falls on the floor, no big deal. With an electronic device, that could be a different story! Even worse in the bathtub!

  • Ellen

    I never would have bought a Kindle on my own, but I received one as a gift. Now that I have it I quite enjoy it. I definitely read more than I did before. Because I’m notoriously cheap I mostly download the free books. I’ve always felt I should be more well-read in the classics and, fortunately, most of them are free.

  • Ellen

    I never would have bought a Kindle on my own, but I received one as a gift. Now that I have it I quite enjoy it. I definitely read more than I did before. Because I’m notoriously cheap I mostly download the free books. I’ve always felt I should be more well-read in the classics and, fortunately, most of them are free.

  • Rich Kauzlarich

    I find I’m reading more. The Kindle is great for the CPH produced Treasury of Daily Prayer by Scot Kinnaman. Keep it at my bed side — and easy to trasport when I travel.

  • Rich Kauzlarich

    I find I’m reading more. The Kindle is great for the CPH produced Treasury of Daily Prayer by Scot Kinnaman. Keep it at my bed side — and easy to trasport when I travel.

  • larry

    I’m thinking about getting a Kindle or some such myself, I love to read in general. But I’m pretty new to this market. The idea of free and cheaper reading material also, being also notoriously cheap (I like that phrase), is appealing. And the idea of more or less taking my “library” with me whereever I go sounds pretty appealing.

    Does anyone here have advice on which to get, best bang for the buck (for reading). Do they read multiple formats (e.g. pdfs)? Is Kindle in general the way to go? If so which one?

    Any help I appreciate very much in advance.

  • larry

    I’m thinking about getting a Kindle or some such myself, I love to read in general. But I’m pretty new to this market. The idea of free and cheaper reading material also, being also notoriously cheap (I like that phrase), is appealing. And the idea of more or less taking my “library” with me whereever I go sounds pretty appealing.

    Does anyone here have advice on which to get, best bang for the buck (for reading). Do they read multiple formats (e.g. pdfs)? Is Kindle in general the way to go? If so which one?

    Any help I appreciate very much in advance.

  • Kimberly

    I wasn’t sure I would like the Kindle, but decided to try it and it’s been really good. So far I’ve only bought one book (had the device ~1 month), but have downloaded a dozen or so for free. I can get the classics that I’ve always meant to read and not have to search the library. Right now I’m reading The Fairie Queen by Spenser. I’d never remember to pick it up at the library, but reading an article that mentioned it, turning on my Kindle and downloading it means i get to enjoy a great work of art.

  • Kimberly

    I wasn’t sure I would like the Kindle, but decided to try it and it’s been really good. So far I’ve only bought one book (had the device ~1 month), but have downloaded a dozen or so for free. I can get the classics that I’ve always meant to read and not have to search the library. Right now I’m reading The Fairie Queen by Spenser. I’d never remember to pick it up at the library, but reading an article that mentioned it, turning on my Kindle and downloading it means i get to enjoy a great work of art.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “Those who like to read will do so, whether or not they own an E-reader.”

    That is a half truth. There are many who cannot read books. My dad has severe macular degeneration. He gave up reading about ten years ago. His Kindle started him reading again. The font he uses on a Kindle is much larger than the font in a large print book.

    I found that eyestrain was keeping me from reading. I wasn’t aware of that until I switched to the Kindle and noticed my reading sessions becoming longer. My far vision has improved since the switch, and I find I am willing to read less and less small print.

    Even large print books do not match the Kindle.

    There were similar surprising changes that came with some earlier technological advances. I once read that in a given period, the time it took students to read through the assigned reading at Harvard went down by a year through advances in uniform typography. We aren’t always immediately aware of what a new technology brings.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “Those who like to read will do so, whether or not they own an E-reader.”

    That is a half truth. There are many who cannot read books. My dad has severe macular degeneration. He gave up reading about ten years ago. His Kindle started him reading again. The font he uses on a Kindle is much larger than the font in a large print book.

    I found that eyestrain was keeping me from reading. I wasn’t aware of that until I switched to the Kindle and noticed my reading sessions becoming longer. My far vision has improved since the switch, and I find I am willing to read less and less small print.

    Even large print books do not match the Kindle.

    There were similar surprising changes that came with some earlier technological advances. I once read that in a given period, the time it took students to read through the assigned reading at Harvard went down by a year through advances in uniform typography. We aren’t always immediately aware of what a new technology brings.

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