Suspend Your Disbelief

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eBook Readers Read More, Socialize More?

Kindle Time!

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Okay, they’re lighter. They’re cheaper. Some have argued that they’re greener, too.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that ebook readers read more books:

A study of 1,200 e-reader owners by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. found that 40% said they now read more than they did with print books. Of those surveyed, 58% said they read about the same as before while 2% said they read less than before. And 55% of the respondents in the May study, paid for by e-reader maker Sony Corp., thought they’d use the device to read even more books in the future. […]

Among early adopters, e-books aren’t replacing their old book habits, but adding to them. Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books, says its customers buy 3.3 times as many books after buying a Kindle, a figure that has accelerated in the past year as prices for the device fell.

And the New York Times notes that ebook readers are sometimes “less isolated”:

“Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and nonfiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Mr. Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. “People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it,” he said. “That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

Okay, it’s not all roses. Recent studies have also found that reading on an e-reader is slower, you can’t show off the cover, and digital typesetting still poses some issues.

And then, as the WSJ points out, there’s the 30 minutes after takeoff and before landing:

But paper pages do have one benefit that electronic devices don’t have: They don’t need to be put away during takeoff and landing on airplanes. On a recent trip to Seattle, 64-year-old Jamie McKenzie, a Bellingham, Wash.-based writer, said he felt a sense of superiority when his seatmate was asked to turn off his Kindle to prepare for takeoff.

“That guy may have had access to 10,000 books, but I was the one who was able to keep reading,” he says.

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