As a long-time e-book reader, the report that has recently surfaced that mentions that owners of e-book readers buy more books than others does not surprise me in the least. While the report used a survey of book buyers to draw the conclusion that reader owners read more books than ever, I could have told them that based on my own experience.
I have been reading e-books for a decade. Take a step back and read that sentence again. While it seems that these readers have only been around for a short while, and that’s true, the fact is e-books have been around for a lot longer. I started reading e-books back in the old Palm Pilot days. Sure the screen was a lot smaller than say a Kindle screen, but it had its advantages. That advantage is one of the three reasons that e-book reader owners buy (and read) more books than the old-school book readers.
1. The buying experience. It’s easy to see a book in many stores and leaf through it. Maybe the cover graphic draws us in, or maybe it’s a book by a favorite author. What could be easier than carrying the book to the checkout counter and buying it? Easy, buying an e-book online. Amazon has done a great job making it as easy as possible to buy an e-book for the Kindle. Let’s face it, one-click buying is the ultimate in impulse buying technology, and that’s what many Kindle owners do. Other retailers like Barnes & Noble make buying almost as easy. The prospective book reader can either buy a book from the electronic reader, or from any computer. See the book, click the button, and the book is pushed to the e-book reader. It couldn’t be easier, and that leads to buying more books.
2. Price. I don’t have statistics, but based on the way booksellers operate it’s no secret that new releases are a big piece of the book selling business. Consumers anxiously wait for the next big book from a favorite author, as the sale of hardcover books demonstrates. These hardcover books can easily cost $25 or more, and readers snap them up. It’s no surprise then that with Amazon and Barnes & Noble selling new releases and bestsellers for $9.99 or less, shoppers are quick to snap them up. There’s no more waiting for the cheaper paperback edition to appear; just click the buy button and in 30 seconds you are reading that bestseller.
3. Alternate readers. I mentioned I started reading e-books on the Palm Pilot, and both Amazon and B&N are savvy enough to recognize that still has appeal. Both retailers were quick to release iPhone (and other phone) versions of their readers to handle those e-books on the run. While a Kindle might give a more enjoyable reading experience than an iPhone, the iPhone (or other device) is always with the owner. I can attest that using a phone to read e-books allows me to capture far more unexpected reading time while on the go than most would realize. I can spend that free time reading a good e-book, and I believe I am not alone in this practice. Amazon’s WhisperNet technology leverages that to maximum benefit, as all the different devices I use to read Kindle books talk to each other. No matter which gadget I have in hand to read, it automatically takes me to the exact spot I left off in the book, regardless of the device I used last for reading.
These three simple reasons have a direct impact on both the amount of time that consumers have to spend reading, and on the number of books purchased. Compared to paper books, e-books are more portable and in the case of best sellers, are much cheaper.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: Evolution of the e-Book Market