Our relationship to books and the information they contain is ever-changing, but it has accelerated in the past few years. We are seeing eBook readers become more mainstream, the rise of the digital textbook and more social networking devoted to reading.
eBook Readers Become More Mainstream
In May, Amazon announced that they now sell more books for the Kindle than print books. For Christmas 2011, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon debuted eBook readers with entry price points under $100. This marks a new era in the affordability of eBook readers for the masses and has led to more widespread adoption. Leading up to Christmas, Amazon purportedly sold over a million Kindles a week and some projections are saying the Kindle will make up over 10% of Amazon’s revenue stream in 2012.
With the increasing adoption of eBook readers that allow people to immediately purchase and read books without ever leaving the comfort of their couch, we’re seeing a corresponding decline in bookstores. This is yet another area where the digital marketplace appears to be cannibalizing typical sales channels.
In an attempt to revolutionize yet another industry, last week Apple announced a new textbook app for the iPad, as well as a free program for anyone to create and publish textbooks. If this catches on in schools, it could revolutionize the way that students learn, but also revolutionize the way students relate to information.
Apple’s aim is to change the way students relate to their learning materials – making them more engaging and more up to date. This also marks a new accessibility to publishing – if professors or school districts can choose and easily publish their own materials, they will be less beholden to the large publishers catering to the larger states.
Who belongs to book clubs anymore? With online options like Goodreads and Shelfari, you and your friends can have a constant dialogue about which books you’re reading, what you think of them and which you recommend to each other. Social sites devoted to reading have continued to grow, albeit with a more niche audience. In September 2011, Goodreads surpassed six million members and over two hundred million catalogued books.
Goodreads has even introduced a new algorithm to suggest books based on the different shelves each user has. With the advent of online recommendation tools like these, the traditional bookstore is becoming obsolete – computers are largely taking over recommendations and even the delivery mechanisms.
So where does the digitization of reading take us? Overall statistics are suggesting that more people are reading more books than ever before, and that’s a good thing no matter what device (or lack thereof) is being used to read.