Why Some Book Buyers Are Increasingly Resistant To E-Readers

Read more books - reading - decline in reading - reading less

Book marketing firm Verso Advertising recently found that over half of book buyers say they are “not at all likely” to purchase an e-reader in the next 12 months — up from 40 percent in 2009. Why?

I asked Verso’s Jack McKeown and Denise Berthiaume why they think avid book buyers — those who buy at least ten books a year — are increasingly resistant to e-readers. McKeown and Berthiaume are also the co-owners of Books & Books, an independent bookstore on Long Island. Here’s what they think:

1. E-readers and tablets do not yet provide sufficient “relative advantage” over physical books to convince this hard core group of book readers to switch to these devices. In other words, the convenience of e-readers is not enough of a factor to offset the abandonment of the codex — with its stereoscopic (two-page) effect, tactile and aesthetic appeal, and more immersive impact — for many hardcore book readers.

2. Screen fatigue: Book readers, and in particular avid readers, enjoy the escape that physical books provide from the array of screen technologies that absorb so much of their working day.

3. Avid book readers enjoy the discoverability experience of shopping in a physical bookstore where contact with the physical product, and interaction with knowledgeable staff, convey an added benefit.

A couple more reasons could be found in another group that is resistant to e-readers — teenagers, who lag behind all other age groups in e-book adoption. Last week at Digital Book World, Bowker’s Kelly Gallagher presented new research on teens’ book buying habits.

Teens like using social technology to discuss and share things with their friends, he said, and e-books at this point are not a social technology. An increasing number of teens surveyed says there are too many restrictions on using e-books: 14 percent said so in 2011, compared to 6 percent in 2010.

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