Wednesday, July 28, 2010

E-book News

Recently Amazon.com has been in the news because of its e-books. First comes the announcement that the rate at which its e-books outsells hardcovers is increasing. Of course, print in general is still king, both in numbers of sales and dollar amounts, but the Amazon Kindle is definitely helping the e-book market grow exponentially.

Second is the news that Swedish author Steig Larsson has become the first to have a million downloads on the Kindle. His Millennium Trilogy (the final installment being The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest) has grabbed the imaginations of readers world-wide, though sadly he passed away before having any idea his books would become an international phenomenon.

So with Amazon doing such great sales of Kindles and e-books, you'd think electronic texts would be all the rage. That isn't necessarily the case, however. According to a Mashable poll, their readers prefer print. The results are actually pretty close:

With 41.9% of the tallies (898 votes), the printed book was the clear favorite over the e-book’s 23.24% of the ballot (498 votes). Interesting enough, a lot of you voted that you like both formats for reading your favorite novel; 34.86% of you (747 votes) said that it was a tie between the e-book and the print book.
(They have a nice little graph if you click the link above, for you visual learners.)

How would you answer Mashable's poll? What is your preferred format for reading? Does it matter if you're reading for pleasure or not (say, textbooks for class versus the latest thriller)? How about books versus magazines or newspapers? If you do read e-books, what device do you prefer (something similar to a book like a Kindle or iPad even, or your smartphone)? Please leave your answers--with reasons--in the comments.

Personally, I prefer print. I have a hard time digesting information from a screen, although I do read the news and sometimes magazine articles online. But for pleasure reading and for in-depth absorption of information, I need a paper-and-ink book. It's portable and doesn't strain my eyes; I can leave a bookmark in it, take notes in the margins, and flip ahead or back as needed; it's free at the library and I can return it when I'm finished; and if I forget it somewhere, it's only one book to replace instead of many plus the device.

Updated 7/30/10: In an interview with USA Today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted that e-books will surpass paperbacks within a year and the combined total of paperbacks and hardbacks shortly thereafter. Read the rest of the interview.

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