ebooks, ebooks everywhere and not a drop of ink

13 Feb 2009

With all this talk of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader and Sony’s forthcoming touchscreen one, it seems as though the world has gone ebook crazy – but what is ebook adoption like, and do we really want to ditch the paperback?

Gadgetrepublic.com carried out a mini-survey among some Twitter and Facebook folk to get a taste of the ebook climate and, having crunched the numbers, it turns out that whether they will be the future of reading or not, most of us have tested the water.

While only 11.1pc of respondents said they read ebooks on a daily basis, a surprisingly high 33.3pc read them once a week, with 44.4pc only opting for an electronic read every so often.

However, that left 16.7pc of those surveyed saying they would never read an eBook because they feel nothing beats the real thing.

Despite the dedicated ebook gadget, the Sony Reader (and the Kindle in the US), as well as apps on the iPhone and other smart phones, through to the good old Palm and, of course, the desktop or laptop, not surprisingly most people (53.3pc) still read their ebooks on the PC or Mac.

Surprisingly, 40pc of respondents consume their ebooks on an iPhone or other smart phone using special apps like Stanza or similar.

With 13.3pc opting for the Sony Reader, and a further 6.7pc each using the Palm or Kindle, the remaining 26.7pc used another device – this could have been the PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS or other portable device.

While ebooks do not offer the same solid experience as the physical hardback or paperback, it is interesting to note that quite a few people are willing to pay for theirs – 47.1pc said they regularly purchase ebooks from Amazon, Waterstones online or other dedicated online stores.

As for free eBooks from sites like Project Gutenberg, 29.4pc get their electronic reading material this way, with a further 47.1pc buying the odd ebook but mostly accessing free material.

Why ebooks though? What is the attraction? Some 64.7pc said it was for convenience, whiling away the time at the bus stop or when travelling.

Interestingly, nobody bought ebooks because they didn’t have time to go to the high-street bookstore, but 41.2pc said they liked the immediacy of being able to download and read straightaway.

A further 23.5pc said ebooks were for practical purposes, such as reading reports or papers for work or college.

One key outcome of the ebook – does it really encourage you to read more? Some 58.8pc of you said yes, but those who do not like the idea of ebooks have a reason.

Some 40pc of respondents said eye-strain or general discomfort was a key factor is discouraging them to read eBooks, while 20pc felt they couldn’t relax like they could with a paperback.

The remaining 40pc? They feel the paperback is irreplaceable.

By Marie Boran

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