Contributor Cindy Orr takes a look at eBook consumers in her monthly post.
Experts say that 2010 will be a transformative year for technology. They’re buzzing about eBooks and eBook readers. Here’s why:
- Sales of eBooks skyrocketed in 2009, up 176.6% from 2008.
- eBook readers are proliferating. Sony Reader was first, but it wasn’t until the Kindle tapped into the huge Amazon customer base that devices became familiar to a wider audience. Now there are many devices.
Early adopters of the Amazon Kindle had a few things in common–they were Amazon customers, could afford the device, were not afraid of technology, and saw how the reader could help them read while commuting or traveling. By and large they knew about no other readers, and were willing to buy all their books from Amazon. But now that the field is growing beyond this original group, where will the trend take us?
Surveys are beginning to give us a picture of the eBook reading community. Here are some things we’ve learned:
- 70% of Kindle owners are older than 40.
- Baby Boomers, the most avid readers, recognize that eBook readers allow them to carry far more reading material and read it more comfortably (increased font sizes, ease of turning pages for arthritic hands).
- eBook reader consumers are very cost conscious.
- This may be one of the few technologies that trickle down from an older generation to a younger one. Older users have adopted eBook readers and Twitter more quickly than the younger generation. eBook use may spread to younger people…or a variation might trickle down. It may turn out, for instance, that older readers will choose single purpose devices like the Sony Reader, and younger people may choose a multi-function device like the Apple iPad. We’ll have to see how that turns out.
But what are the implications for libraries? Here are a few suggestions:
- We should take advantage of the publicity and interest and make sure we have good eBook collections.
- We should shape our collections with older users in mind.
- We need to spread the word that the library has eBooks that can be read at no cost–legally.
- We should make sure our patrons know that eBooks can be read not only on computers, but that they can use the OverDrive system to download and transfer them to many compatible devices, including the Sony Reader and the nook.
- We should help readers understand that eBook readers will let them control text size and may make it easier for some people to hold and read a book.
- We should help them understand that the Kindle is not compatible with their library’s collection but that there are other brands of electronic reading devices that are.