Let’s Hear It: How Have Your Reading Habits Changed?

Ebook Reading Habits

In a few weeks, I’ll be releasing brand-new “flavors” of one of my flagship products, eBook Evolution.

I’ve been hard at work creating the new products, and building all the support materials to go with them: quick-start ebooks, videos, FAQ pages and more. I can’t wait to show it all to you!

In the meantime, I’ve had ebooks on my mind a lot lately, as you can imagine. I wonder …

How have your reading habits changed in the past few years?


I’ll start. Last year, when Apple released its new iPad, I knew it was finally time for me to make my move. You see, when the new iPad came out, the earlier version — the iPad 2 — came down to a price that was within reason.

I purchased it, and have used it for a little over a year.

One thing I noticed immediately is that I was reading more than ever. I had fallen out of my book reading habit in the years before I got the iPad. Now that I have it, I’ve consumed more books in the past year than in the previous three years combined.

I’ve read both PDF ebooks and EPUB-style ebooks. The EPUB-style ebooks are delivered either through Apple’s iBookstore, or Amazon’s Kindle for iPad app.

I’m also reading more blog posts and online articles. I use an app called Pocket to bookmark and save anything that looks interesting during the week. On the weekends (or when I have a free moment), I read what I’ve saved.

I use the iPad for research, discovery, and just plain old reading. (And also drawing, watching videos, writing blog posts, managing email, and more).

How about you?

Do you own a tablet device? Do you prefer paper books?

Please take a moment to visit the comments and let me know if your reading habits have changed in the past few years. I want to hear from you!

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Pamela,

    I’m glad you wrote this article. My reading habits have changed dramatically too since I purchased my first iPad! Before, I would go to a bookstore, skim through books, maybe purchase one or two, get them home and never touch them again, haha.

    Now, with the convenience of a tablet, I find myself reading constantly. And because of that, my mind has become a sponge, thirsty for knowledge, hungry for information.

    I have monthly magazine subscriptions, PDF’s as well as books from the iBookstore. I read everywhere, and most importantly, I enjoy it.

    • says

      Interesting, Michael!

      I’ve still got a backlog of paper books I need to read, and find myself zipping through my ereader books a lot faster, so I understand what you’re saying.

      The curious thing is that I never would have predicted that. At first, I didn’t enjoy reading on a tablet as much as a book. But I guess I adapted. ;-)

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. says

    I received a Kindle as a birthday gift two years ago. At the time, I thought it was nice, but I’d always believed I preferred “real” books; the kind you could hold open, flip paper pages; fold down the corner to keep your place. You remember those.

    Then I started using the Kindle. It fed my dormant reading habit and reading once again became part of my daily life. I’ve purchased close to 150 books (mostly free) from Amazon over the past two years. The Kindle follows me around the house; it’s in my office when I want to take a break from working, it’s in the kitchen when I am eating, it’s in the bathroom so I can read while I brush my teeth and dry my hair.

    I take it in my purse any time I think I may have some time to kill; at the doctor’s office, the hair salon, waiting in the car for my husband to run into Home Depot. I read books on my phone using the Kindle app. I can read several books at once; something that was harder to do with “real” books, especially when I traveled.

    I have gotten so used to reading on a Kindle, that on the rare occasion when I do read a traditional book, I am surprised when it does not turn off after I’ve left it open for a bit.

    Traditional books are still the best option for somethings; my Kindle is black and white and pictures don’t render that well. I am sure if I had an iPad or something similar, it would take the place of even more books for me, but for now, the Kindle is fine. For now.

  3. Karen Draghi says

    Hi Pamela,
    Thank you for this blog post, I can really relate! I bought a Kindle about a year ago and now I probably have over a hundred books and “sample” chapters of books on my kindle. It’s so much easier to “sample” a book and determine whether I want to buy the whole book. When I buy the book, the Kindle version is ideal, unless it’s the type of book where I want to highlight a lot of text and/or keep as a reference.

    My husband says he prefers to hold the book in his hands but I think he just needs more time to read on his Kindle!

    Good luck with your e-book publishing!

    • says

      That ability to sample chapters is brilliant, in my opinion. They give you just enough to get you hooked, and then … you have to buy it (which they provide a handy one-click link for!).

  4. says

    I always prefer printed books. To me, many of my books are sacred because I’ve learnt a lot from reading and re-reading them.
    Shankar, India

  5. says

    I’ve been reading Kindle, Nook and PDF on my computer for 2-3 years. Handy and quick to purchase and access. No half hour trip to the closest book store. I can have a book in front of my eyes within seconds. I love this type of access to books. I now have a large smart phone and am now reading in various and sundry locations. I often have something handy to take little notes on for later reference. However, there are some books I prefer to have hard copy. They are the ones that get seriously highlighted with notes in the margins and dog eared for reference. What a wonderful world we live in!

  6. says

    I am 60 years of age. I have a stack of books that I probably will never read from cover to cover (mostly non-fiction). As a writer, I use books more like reference material. My wife, on the other hand, reads mostly fiction, more for enjoyment. I love the price of a e-book but I tend to gravitate to my hard copies. I’ve got a small collection of kindle books and try to read them on my laptop, but my eyes don’t like the strain. I’m thinking of getting a Kindle reader. (My wife won’t let me near her ipad.)

    • says

      If you’re using a book as a reference piece, you might prefer paper. It’s easier to fold pages, mark up and put sticky notes on the page.

      Of course, all this can be done virtually in ebooks. It takes a bit of time to get used to using those tools, though.

      You may find the Kindle Reader easier on your eyes. I have a friend who prefers it over her iPad.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. says

    Ah, a subject close to my heart, from the consumer, as well as producer point of view.

    As a producer I am also interested in reading habits and statistics. On a recent train journey I looked at all the reading people (lots of them). From teens to the stereo-typical non-tech little old lady, they were virtually all on mobiles, tablets or Kindles – including this little old lady ;-).

    Then there was the BBC article about book sales in the UK in 2012. Paper book sales dropped by 5% whilst ebook sales rose by a staggering 100%. I expect not all of those ebook sales resulted from the fact that you can’t buy or borrow second-hand ebooks for an e-reader. It would appear that people do actually read, or at least, buy more ebooks.

    They are certainly very convenient to buy, and for the impatient a real bonus. Having said that, I just had my first download frustration and had to ask for a refund from Amazon and buy the paper version instead. The book was a hefty 500-odd mb with multi-media content and crashed the download repeatedly.

    That book is actual worth mentioning here, for those not yet familiar with it. You may know of the fabulous Common Craft “In plain English” videos. Well, Lee Lefever has now written a book “The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand”. Clicking “buy” was a no-brainer, but I still read the excerpts. Those few pages already gave me ideas for explaininh a difficult topic. Be warned, though, this is a book you may want in the paper form. The only slightly negative review was about the Kindle version.

    I, too, have increased my book buying and reading since I installed the Kindle software on my iPad, especially since I got the lighter mini iPad (yeah, I’m a bit of a gadget freak). Before long I will invest in a dedicated Kindle as it is a cheaper device to wear out, lighter in the hand, easier on the eyes and perfectly adequate for the more text-heavy books. As I see it, three devices will last three times as long, and each does the best job for a task it is optimised for.

    I can relate to Rebecca’s comment about switching off a book. Since using a touch device I occasionally find myself touching the screen of the laptop.

    • says

      I’m surprised they had such a large file as a Kindle book. Amazon actually makes the author pay for delivering the document. It’s not much if the ebook is small, but it could be quite expensive at that size. The book looks wonderful though, and it’s in my cart!

      You can’t beat ereaders for the ability to stash thousands of books in a tiny, portable space. We’re in the process of adding bookshelves to a room in our house, and my husband and I joked that instead of shelves we should just make an ereader stand and put a spotlight on it. ;-)

  8. says

    When my kids were little, I spent time and money collecting books to build a home library. And quickly found that my kids preferred the public library, for the most part. We visited it at least once a week and have always been a family of readers.

    To me, one big benefit of ebooks is storage. And not having to dust them :-) I bought a Kindle Fire about a week after they first went on sale. It gets used every day — if not by me, by one of my kids. I, myself, used it daily until I got an Android smartphone in November.

    How have my reading habits changed? I use Pocket, too. And Flipboard. And Pulse. And just for good measure, I also have Taptu and Google Currents on my phone and Kindle, also. So many RSS feeds, so little time . . . I’ve always found reading on the Web takes away from time I’d probably otherwise spend reading books. But I still read books. Now, instead of having a fiction book and a non-fiction book I’m reading at any given time, I have at least 2 fiction books going at once (one physical copy, usually checked out from the library, and another on Kindle). I pull my phone out when I’m in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor’s office or when I have to kill time waiting for one of my kids or something.

    I find I’m doing the same thing I did with physical books — building up a library of ebooks. Good thing they don’t take up any physical space. As time goes on I’m being more selective, even of the ones I download for free. I had a bunch of PDF ebooks on my hard drive, even before I got the Kindle. And one thing I liked about the Kindle Fire was the ability to put my PDF books on there. But Kindle books are SO much more convenient — both to buy and to read. I’m now downloading a lot less PDF books than I used to before I got the Kindle.

    I’ve actually created a Kindle book. An engineer friend of mine wrote and ebook and I edited it and then my son and I managed to figure out how to make it into a Kindle book. Now I notice formatting stuff when I read Kindle books, such as whether or not the Table of Contents entries link to the actual chapters (I spent a lot of extra time figuring out how to do this) and when the margins on the side are too wide (this really makes a difference when you read it on a 4-inch smartphone screen).

    Yes, I know, there is software you can get to make a Kindle book. But I learned web design by doing the code myself, and though I can’t make a complicated web page that way, I’m still glad I have a clue how to put together an HTML file, and I’m glad I have a sense of how the Kindle stuff works too. Ten years from now we’ll be amazed at the stripped-down nature of today’s Kindle books, because they’ll be all colorful and with lots of fonts, or something we can’t even visualize yet. But right now, I’m glad to be able to change the font size myself on my own screen and not have it make the content totally unreadable. My old eyes are glad to be able to make the words big enough to read without my reading glasses.

    Speaking of reading glasses, I have a friend who is a voracious reader. He almost died from some sort of — well, I guess it was like a stroke. After he recovered, he was still experiencing vision problems (among other things — this man is lucky to be alive). He bought an iPad and was able to use it to increase the font size enough so he could still read it. So there is a big benefit of this technology to people with vision issues.

    • says

      My kids always loved the library. I did, too! But I have to confess I haven’t been back to the local library in a while. I wonder if 20 years from now libraries will look as they do now, or if they’ll dramatically change?

      Between you and me — and anyone else who reads this ;-) — one of the elements of the new version of eBook Evolution is a guide that will help people convert their OpenOffice ebook templates into an ereader-compatible file. I’m very excited to be able to add this capability to the product!

      I think overall there are more positives than negatives when it comes to ereaders. Look at what your friend is able to do, for example. I know someone who has to use one of those clunky magnifiers in order to read his magazines and books. Having a device that would do that for him would be wonderful.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. :-)

  9. says

    Hi Pamela

    I use my computer to read most of the newsletters and blogs that I consume. I use my iPhone to read-on-the-go – on the bus/tube, in the kitchen, while I’m waiting for something or someone and I take my kindle on holidays. I long for an iPad but I desperately need a new computer so it has to come first.

    Books have become a rare treat.

    By the way, my 80-something mother uses her iPad to read her daily newspaper and her favourite magazines. She even sends me links to interesting articles. Friends tell me that their elderly parents are also keen iPad users.

    • says

      That’s fascinating that your mom uses it so avidly. It’s a very approachable piece of technology, when you think about it. Easy to figure out and interact with.

      Thanks for the comment, Margaret!

  10. says

    I read what I have to on my computer. For long docs and reports, however, I’m still too old fashioned, and print them out and read them from paper :). I don’t read much on my iphone – screen too small for much more than email and texts. I don’t have a reader of any kind yet, or an iPad either.
    I lover reading books but have precious little time for them. So I discovered that I LOVE audio books! I had no idea how much I liked being read to!

  11. says

    I’ve been reading ebooks since the kindle app first came out on the iPhone.
    One of my favorite places/times to read has always been early morning or late at night, and this beats balancing a book/book light combo. This lets me read more.
    Since I bought my first iPad, and now my second, they replaced the phone for reading and just about everything else that I consider “personal” or non-business computing. I also use an Adobe ereader for a text for work, and find it far less user friendly.
    The one thing that Apple’s iBook’s have have Kindle books are missing is the ability to copy and paste short bits of text. It includes the link to the book and a copyright notice. Wish I could do that with Kindle books.

    • says

      Yes, the ability to copy text would be great. You can highlight it in Kindle, though, and then find all your highlights if you go to https://kindle.amazon.com/ and log in. (Hat tip to my friend Karyn Greenstreet for this info).

      What I end up doing is keeping a text document open on my iPad while I read and typing old-fashioned notes into it while I read. Some people use Evernote the same way.

  12. says

    Hi Pamela,
    I do read all your mail, but have not made it to a website yet, been travelling for the last two years.
    Frankly I just would not have time to read or log around books, but on my pad I can read when ever I have a few minutes.
    L&B Annamarie

  13. Carole says

    I have always been a great reader, and my husband and kids are too. We decided when we moved last year, that we had to get Kindles because we had so many books, that they threatened to take over the house. We had resisted this long because we like the feel of books, but there was no learning curve in getting used to the Kindle. Right now I am in various stages of reading four books, 2 paper and 2 Kindle. It’s seamless for me. Last week I discovered I could read a Kindle book on my cell phone, which will come in handy if I am in an unexpected line. I also converted most of my magazine subscriptions to a digital format, which I read on my computer – I don’t have an iPad. Will we always have books? I think yes. My husband and I are agreed that we will want to continue to purchase our very favorite authors’ works in paper form. But I at least have fully embraced the idea of digital content as well, although I admit that the storage issue was the driving force behind it all.

    • says

      Thanks for this comment, Carole.

      Books have changed formats many times: they went from being written on stone, to scrolls and papyrus, to being handwritten, and finally to being printed.

      One way to think about it is that this is just another format change. These are still books, but they’re books that we don’t have to dust, they won’t get moldy, and we don’t have to pack them into boxes to move them.

      It’s pretty amazing that we can fit so many on such a small device, too!

  14. Natasha says

    I love the idea of digital books. I am lazy, live a long way from a library or bookstore, and love to read. What I need to decide is what ereader to get – I want it big enough to see and small enough to carry in my purse – suggestions? Then I will always have a book with me, not just at my bedside :)

    • says

      The commenters here seem to prefer Kindle. There are all different types of Kindle, and the one you decide on depends on what you’d like it to do, and your budget.

      iPad is a great option, too, but a bit more expensive. It does a lot more than allow you to read books, however, so you might be able to justify the extra expense.

      Have fun shopping, Natasha!

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