Now here’s a question – who actually reads ebooks? I’ve read quite a lot about this – for instance, I recently read a report that said the latest figures indicate that 20% of book sales in the US are now in the form of ebooks; what I can’t find out is who makes up that 20%. As a writer it’s kind of important to understand how that figure breaks down demographically. Is it mainly young readers who are switiching to ebooks? Or is it another age-group? Are they male or female and what kind of books make up that 20%? I’m sure the figures are out there somewhere but if someone knows them off-hand, I’d be very grateful if they’d let me know.
I have a hunch that this might be a more complicated subject than I might think. You see, I’m pretty sure that for an older reader the convenience of the ebook must be a great selling point. Let me expand: I don’t think of myself as anything but middle-aged (my kids think I’m ancient, but I think of myself as middle-aged, I want to emphasise that) but already I find that the old mincers (for American readers thats rhyming slang – mince-pies = eyes) the old mincers are beginning to go. That’s one of the reasons I love ebooks. I don’t have to put on pesky reading glasses, I can simply up the print size with a cick on an icon (should that be eye-con?). That, in my opinion, is a handy device, but on the other hand the traditionalist in me still thinks a book is a thing made out of paper, cardboard, prnter’s ink and deams…
Then there’s the question of techno-phobia. Are things electronic mainly loved by youth? I doubt it – my dad was eighty four when he died and he was using a PC for photographic-editing, accounts, reading, catching -up on missed TV and keeping in-touch with his grand-children. My American aunt in Florida is eighty-six emails me every week and runs a computer system in the hospital she does volunteer work in. So age shouldn’t be a draw-back to reading ebooks. But why do I suspect it is? Perhaps because my aunt hates them – she’s quite capable of using them but she won’t, and nor would my dad.
Is it because there are some things we hang onto as a happy tradition? A fond memory? I was brought-up with stories being read to me and later on happiness was to curl-up in bed, find a flashlight and read a book under the bedcovers in the (erroneous) belief that my parents had no idea what I was up to. Will torrow’s kids have the same affection for books with paper pages or will they wax fondly about their first ipad with the Kindle app?
So come on, someone, let me know – who reads ebooks and if you don’t know I’d still love to know how you prefer to read – is it on the screen or on the page? Let me know.