Oct 24, 2015

New Research that is Not New

Are people reading the e-books they purchase from companies such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo? There is growing research data that is supporting the notion that people are not reading the digital titles they buy online and for the most part, they are never even opened. Full article here.   My thoughts follow...

I highlighted the above article a few weeks ago in one of my RAW compilation posts, because I though it was a bit silly (yet here I am creating more content about it too). The gist of the article is that 'there is growing amount of research which supports the notion that people are not reading the digital titles that they buy online and for the most part, they are never even opened.'  This comes from tracking software and other types of analysis that e-book sellers have attached to your e-book.  The author of the article speculated a few reasons for this: current lifestyle, the number of non-reading adults (which has tripled since 1978) and different ways of reading, as in more time spent reading web articles rather than books etc.

However, from my point of view this is not a new thing.  Before e-books were even invented I was purchasing physical books and not reading them.  There were multiple reasons for this, one would be the Vanity purchase, you get the book to display on your shelf, not to read Per Se. I did this during my time training as a pastor, as there were a number of recommended books that we 'should have on our shelves', just in cause we needed to refer to them (this was pre-internet days), but they also showed your 'theological leanings'.  There is an interesting anecdote given in the comments section of this article which shows other people do the same:

Martha Smith  to wurdnurd 

I read somewhere that Michael Kinsley visited a bunch of DC bookstores back when Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time was a bestseller. Kinsley stuck slips of paper into the middle of the sale copies that said something like, "When you find this, contact me and win $50." No one claimed the money--Kinsley felt it was because people were buying the books but not actually reading them. :)

 However I believe that the main reason is 'good intentions'.  I have many books on my shelves which I thought looked interesting or I wanted the information they contained but I never found the motivation to crack it open or I would skim the information I needed but never completely read the whole book.

I recently cleaned out about 70% of the physical books that I had collected over my 40 year reading life, and there are still books in that collection which I still haven't read yet. Some of these books incude:

The Writers Journey: 
Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
by Christopher Vogler 
Transforming Mission: 
Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission 
by David Jacobus Bosch
Bendable Learnings:
The Wisdom Of Modern Management 
by Don Watson
No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy
John Calvin:
A Pilgrim's Life
by Herman J. Selderhuis
Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
by Eric Metaxa

This is just a few from the remains of my physical book library, and then there are more e-books that I have recently purchased over the last 4-5 years which I not yet read yet either.   Reading through the comments on this article I see that many people think the same as I do. There is one which I think sums it up nicely though:

I probably have read only 30% of the ebooks I have purchased. I buy ebooks
* because they are on sale and I intend to read them later, and something distracts me
* because I already read them in print and want an e-copy
* because they are in the back catalog of authors I really like and I'm not sure how long they will stay available in any format.
I still check books out from the library, but more and more often, I return them unread. It's more comfortable to read e-books (lighter weight, backlight, adjustable font, no need to mark my place, etc.) The library copy helps me decide whether to purchase the e-book
I used to buy too many print books, too, and still have piles of print books I intend to read "someday." If it were possible to track print book habits, I suspect no one would be shocked by these findings.Martha Smith


So after considering this article alongside another article, which I highlighted in the same RAW collation post titled How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy, I have been motivated to clear my back list of unread titles.  In order to provide some motivation I have decided to write a quick post about the book after completing. Let's see how I go.

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