All those tablets and eReaders that consumers unwrapped over the holidays? Not surprisingly, they have shown up in book sales. Bob Minzesheimer at USA Today reports that, for the first time, eBook versions outsold other versions of books among the top-50 titles. Here’s the money quote:
The latest list, based on sales data from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, shows a remarkable burst of digital book sales after e-readers were unwrapped as gifts — for 42 of the top 50 titles, the e-book editions were the most popular format. The previous high, in July, was 25 of the top 50.
Not that the print book is going away. Though eBook sales doubled to 20% of market share during 2011, up from 10%, the other 80% is still accounted for by… print books. The big takeaway is that readers have more choices — and the ability to adapt technology to their needs. We’ve long known that tablets are great for “on the go” consumption, for example. One recent University program that used iPads as a teaching aid found at least one student who made good use of the eBook’s instantaneous download characteristics:
One student read 140 books during the semester with the Kindle app. (Yes, 140. The number left the rest of us slack-jawed.) She said, though, that if she were choosing a device for reading e-books, she’d buy a Kindle. It is cheaper, is easier on the eyes and offers fewer distractions than an iPad.
Can you imagine what it would be like for that student to lug even a portion of those books in her book bag?
Let it be said, however, that tablets and eReaders still have a ways to go in the academic world. Damon Poete reports on a recent study at the University of Washington that found students using eReaders want more support for note-taking, reference checking and viewing figures, all things that the current generation of eReaders do poorly.
That has something to do with the way eReaders were designed. Notes study co-author Charlotte Lee, “Most e-readers are designed for leisure reading — think romance novels on the beach.”
More than that, the study’s conclusion is provocative: “[the] Kindle DX is more likely to replace ‘paper-based reading than their computer-based reading.’” Hmmm… There goes that trendline again…