I’m a little shocked at an article I found on the FutureBook blog about ebook reading habits on mobile phones, a topic that is being discussed this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The article summarises the results of a survey taken by 3000 consumers in the US and the UK by Michael Cairns and Publishing Technology, and describes how many people use their phones to read ebooks.
I do read the news on my mobile phone via apps, but would not consider reading an ebook on it for a number of reasons. I fear the battery would drain, the screen would be too small, I might strain my eyes, and, though I have never tried it, I generally just feel that I would have a bad user experience. I’m with the 40% of respondents who are ‘opposed to reading full-length books on their phones’ because of a ‘general lack of convenience’.
I would have expected that a very few number of people would read on their mobile phones, and would perhaps consider it only if they found themselves stuck somewhere without other means of entertainment. Though I am aware that ebook apps are downloadable for phones and so there is a clear market, they can also be downloaded on tablets and laptops, and I believe that the user experience would be far more enjoyable on a larger device. A massive 44% of people read parts of ebooks on their phones, ‘but continue reading on another device or in print’. This is a higher statistic than I would have expected, but their reasoning behind reading seems sensible, as these readers might be commuting, for example, and without a more practical reading device or a physical copy of a book.
Now for the most surprising statistic: over 15% of people read whole ebooks on their mobile phones regularly. I was unfortunately unable to find out if these particular respondents gave reasons as to why they regularly read on their mobile, and was also unable to really imagine why they do it. I feel that reading on a phone could only be effective or enjoyable for me if I had a handset with an unrealistically large screen, but otherwise think that reading on a mobile would be a terrible habit to form, and would be more inconvenient than grabbing a book from a shop or a library.
Do you think this phenomenon is positive negative? It proves that reading books is accessible, and it seems a smarter use of free time to read on a phone rather than play games or text, but I think that it could encourage the consumer to overuse their mobile phones. If anything, lots of us should be trying to use our phones a little less often. If heavy phone users start to read on their phones too, all of our spare time will be spent on our gadgets.
Have a look here at the full article on the Bookseller’s website, where you can also find a great infographic which neatly sums up the results of the survey.