Blog Post

Three Reasons e-Book Reader Owners Buy More Books

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 (s 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 (s amzn) 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 (s bks) 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

7 Responses to “Three Reasons e-Book Reader Owners Buy More Books”

  1. I think that many people who may have never considered e-books will think again as more and more great readers enter the marketplace. They’re so darn convenient. I have had my Kindle now for a few months and find myself purchasing e-books quite regularly and I am reading a lot more now too.

  2. This seems to be a flawed scenario to me… Of course owners of an ebook reader will read more books on it… Why would someone spend $200+ if there wasn’t already an interest in reading in the first place?

  3. a rather small annoyance just popped up using my Kindle for PC application. I was following up on the published piece about, at the time, fully 60 % of the Amazon 100 best selling titles being free. Spotted a title that sounded interesting. Bought it, so to speak, it being free. Was reading it and instead of it being a book was only a couple of excerpts of a book plus a bit of information about the authors. And no where on the description page did it make any mention of this. Had I purchased this and have it turn out to be only excerpts would have really pissed me off. A couple of other free titles did in fact turn out to be books and were much enjoyed.

  4. Ricky B.

    I used to have a Franklin eBookMan for my eBooks… it came out in 1999 and had none of the advantages you listed. Then again, it didn’t really take off, either… ;)

  5. I don’t read e-books, but listen to audio books.

    With audio books there is no need to switch devices, the audio of my mobile device is good enough and can stream to other audio sources nearby if need be.

    But what’s common to both the audio book and e-book is how difficult it is to maintain that continuity. Amazon solved the problem for e-books with networked Kindle apps. With audio books, carrying one device doesn’t require networked apps, but still it’s hard to find podcast or audio book players that manage continuity correctly. You quit the app or switch to a different track, it loses your timeline. Very few podcast apps do this right. PodTrapper on the BlackBerry is the only one I found to handle this correctly so far.

    As a result I’m also able to fill in time slots with listening and cover a lot material. Managing continuity of reading or listening is a central enabling feature for digital book devices.

  6. I’ve been reading ebooks since I got my Softbook Reader which is (I still have it) the first dedicated ebook reader. I got it in June ’99. About two years later I bundled up my paper back collection and it exactly filled a half cubic yard box. It consisted of 275 titles.

    My Kindle DX currently has 754 titles and my nook has 276. Many of those nook titles were originally purchased for the Softbook Reader. Fortunately Fictionwise picked up my Softbook Reader titles when Gemstar folded the Softbook Reader.

    The thing I just learned to appreciate about ebooks is tax time. My Kindle DX has really accelerated my purchase of technical aka work related titles. They’re more useful to me with the guaranteed best index you ever had (full text search) and readable annotations (rather than scrawled post it’s). Amazon sends me a receipt for each book and I shunt the technical receipts into an easy to process at tax time email folder. Can you say larger tax write off?

  7. So true. I’ve read more books in the last 6 months than I’ve read in years thanks to ebook readers and iPhone. I really could care less about the difference between a Sony Reader and a Kindle except that I can buy books directly on the Kindle. My wife, on the other hand, is an avid reader but she basically didn’t like the Kindle I bought her. She prefers the real thing and going to book stores. Oh well, I get to use her Kindle so it’s all good.