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Friday, 24 June 2016


There! You see! I told you it wouldn’t last. I always said people would eventually go back to reading an actual book and not a digital hand-held thingamajig. The Association of American Publishers reckon there was a decline in e-book sales of 14% in 2015 compared to 2014. Only 34% of book buyers actually own one of these things and they still spend half their reading time with a real book.

Publishers are left scratching their heads in perplexity wondering why e-reader ownership has been stagnant for the past three years. Well, I can tell them. Having splurged out last month on a very basic Kindle, I think I can see the difference between an e-book and a real book.

Okay, those little tablet things are convenient. If you’re going on holiday they’re magic. You can upload all the books you need for your trip away and you don’t have to tote around a whole sack-load of books. They don’t disintegrate when getting wet in the bath (at least I don’t think so), and an e-book is cheap although increased pricing may be partly to blame for the fall-off. One thing I really like is I can change to a bigger font. I can also buy books that I wouldn’t normally spend money on. I like the fact that some writers are being canny and uploading the first book in a series for free. A neat touch, that.

But there’s apparently something called digital fatigue that seems to be playing a major role in the decline. Folk who spend up to five hours a day gazing at some form of screen at work don’t really want to do that in their leisure time as well.

Who is it reading electronic books anyway? Usually your 18-24 age group and they’re the ones with their noses stuck onto their work computer. Interestingly, this age group is also the group buying the most real books. Us oldies haven’t been sold on e-books. We are the ones more likely to be reading but perhaps not buying as much as we used to. Taking out an e-book from the library is maybe more than we can manage; certainly more than I can manage. If you are replacing older technology the new stuff has to be ten times better. Are e-books ten times better than real books?

Give me a real book any day. It’s a tactile thing. I love the way a new book smells, the velvety feel of a cover, the ability to read the ending before getting there.

Hey! That may not be such a good idea!
Jenny Harrison

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