When my new book, Heirs and Graces, came out two weeks ago I was surprised
to find that it topped the historical mystery bestseller list in its
Audible audio format. More people were listening to it than reading it. This
also coincided with my reading an article that claimed e-books were not
growing nearly as rapidly as predicted. It seemed that the techies of
the world had bought their Kindles, Nooks and Kobos when the devices first came out, but the general
reading public was not following suit. What's more those original buyers had loaded their devices with lots of cheap and appealing books that were still waiting to be read, thus not encouraging their owners to buy more.
Real books were not about to lie
down and play dead.
So I decided to run a poll on my Facebook page. What surprised me was
that 20,000 people came to visit. I have never seen numbers like that
before, especially in the space of two days. And as I read the comments
one thing became clear People are passionate about their reading habits. Many people finished their post with one or more exclamation points. "Only real books!!!!"
So having read and digested 1000 comments I can tell you, with
scientific accuracy :) , that real books beat out electronic versions by
more than two to one. And something interesting emerged from this
study: reading from a real book was a sensory experience, involving all
There was the tactile stimulation of turning pages, feeling a book in
one's hand. As one commenter put it, "If it's a mystery I can prolong
the suspense by holding the tip of the page between my fingers and waiting in
delicious anticipation before I turn it."
Someone else said, "How would you press flowers in an e-book?"
who chose e-books liked the convenience, especially for travel, plus
the fact that downloads were cheaper. Some commented they had run out of
shelf space. Others that they could download out of print books. One
commenter admitted she was naturally lazy and it was so easy to have a
book delivered to her Kindle with one click.
In the case of audio it also seemed to be convenience and the only way
to fit books into a busy lifestyle. One commenter said "If it weren't
for audio I wouldn't have a chance to experience books." Audio has the
added advantage that one can do something else at the same time.
Audiophiles listened during long commutes, during workouts, housework or
dog walking. One of my fans told me last week that her dog walks have
stretched to three hours while she listened to my new book.
surprising comments came out of my survey. A teacher mentioned that
children tired of looking at screens all day and liked real books in
their free time, (who knew?) and someone who worked in a college
bookstore stated that most college students preferred real books, but
that downloads of textbooks were so much cheaper and easier to carry
About ten percent of the respondents said that they loved
all forms of reading. "E-books, audio, cornflake packets" one woman
said. But it is reassuringly clear that real paper books are not going
away any time soon! Bookstores--you may breathe a sigh of relief.
So what about you, Reds and Readers, do you still read predominantly electronic books, listen to them or insist on the good old paper versions where you get the added bonus of a workout by turning the pages?