Writing and Publishing

What is the Ultimate Reading Device?

There’s Kindle, Nook, Kobo eReader, tablets, and apps. Which one is the ultimate e-reader? Which one will rise to the top, replace its competitors, and survive as the reader of choice? Which one is the ultimate reading device that will endure long into the future?

The ultimate reading device

The answer is none of them!

What is the ultimate reading device?

Quite simply, it is the printed word.

With a hard copy, you don’t need to worry about software compatibility, device obsolescence, battery power consumption, damage when it’s dropped, someone electronically recalling your book, and so forth.

A printed book has none of these concerns. You can read a book anytime, anywhere. It is truly the ultimate reader.

Although e-readers have their place and do offer benefits, I do not see them replacing printed books as many have predicted. The two will co-exist, side-by-side for the foreseeable future.

Even so, the ultimate reading device will continue to be the printed word.

Writing and Publishing

What Do Readers Care About?

What do book readers care about?

When book readers consider our book, few will bother to look to see who published it. They won’t care if a major publisher, let alone any traditional publisher, produced it. When it comes to publishers, there is little brand loyalty, let alone much brand recognition. The imprint is of no consequence. How the printed book gets into their hands or the e-book gets into their reader doesn’t matter to them.

Here’s what does matter:

Book Readers Care about the Cover

What they will look at is the cover. They will, in fact, judge our book by its cover. First impressions matter a great deal.

Book Readers Care about the Title

The title is critical, too. Depending on how they discovered our book, whether they see the title first or the cover first, the other element will seal the deal—or not. If the cover is great but the title, lame, they will dismiss it. Similarly, if they see the title first, a great cover will move them towards a purchase, while a bad cover will move them to a different book.

Book Readers Care about the Formatting

Next, they will look at the insides, whether thumbing through the actual pages or clicking online. If the layout looks “normal,” they will proceed. If it looks odd—even though they won’t know why—a red flag pops up.

[bctt tweet=”What is your experience when buying a book? What do you care about?” username=”Peter_DeHaan”]

Book Readers Care about the Content

If our book passes these first three screens, they may actually read a section or two. Great writing beckons them; bad writing or editing—even average writing or editing—sends them packing.

Only when they get this far will they consider buying it.

Readers don’t care if our book is traditionally published or self-published; they care if our book is professional looking, well written, and interesting.

Writing and Publishing

Half of Avid Book Readers Prefer Print

Readers who purchase many books each year evenly divide on print versus digital

In 2012, Book Business magazine, reporting on a Verso Advertising study, noted that 49.7 percent of avid readers refuse to go paperless. They define avid book readers as those who purchase more than ten books per year. Notice they use the word purchase and don’t say those who read ten or more books. I certainly read more than ten books annually, but I’m not sure if I buy ten.

Perhaps even more significant, this is an increase from 40 percent in 2009. Does this signal a digital backlash among power readers?

Interestingly, only 2.1 percent of regular readers oppose using e-readers.

So while many readers embrace going paperless, the avid readers—those who account for most of the books bought—are evenly divided on this issue. Deciding to publish only in e-book format effectively eliminates half of the most dedicated book buyers from purchasing your book.

But that was then. What about now?

I searched for studies that are more current and couldn’t find any that parallels this one. Okay, I spent a couple of minutes looking. There must be some out there—somewhere.

What I do know is that I hear less hype and less enthusiasm for e-books now than I did four years ago. From a personal reader perspective, I currently read more printed books than e-books, whereas four years ago I did the opposite. As a book buyer, however, my preference has always been towards purchasing print books; I have never bought many e-books.

Of course, my personal perceptions mean little when it comes to formulating a publishing strategy, but I think it is safe to say, don’t ignore print.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.





Amazon’s New Tablet, The Kindle Fire

There is a buzz today about Amazon’s new Kindle Fire, a tablet intended to compete with Apple’s iPad. I first heard the announcement on the radio this morning while munching my breakfast—and I have already received three press releases about it.

Apple reportedly sells 7 out of every 10 tablets, with more than one competitive product left floundering—or having drowned—in its wake. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is competitively required to protect Amazon’s Kindle-loyal readers and all the books that they consume. Karl Volkman, of Chicago-based SRV Network, Inc., notes that Amazon’s foray may be successful because:

  • The Kindle Fire costs far less than Apple’s iPad 2.
  • The Kindle Fire will run a revved-up version of Google’s Android software, an operating system that has given Mac’s iOS software a run for its money on smart-phones.
  • Kindle’s existing momentum as a more popular alternative for reading books than the iPad.

What does this mean? There is now one more device for publishers to work with and more device for people to consider, with the e-reader/tablet market becoming more congested before it becomes clearer. The result is that publishers—and consumers—who pick the wrong device will be left with old hardware they can’t use and books that they can’t read. (How many audio cassettes, video disks, and VHS videotapes do you have laying around?)

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.


Heavy Users of Print Also Embrace Digital

While the conventional wisdom is that as people who read go electronic, they abandon print. It makes sense, but is it true?

In this regard, the July issue of Folio magazine shares some interesting findings from a survey conducted by GfK MRI. Specifically, tablet owners are 66% more likely then the average US adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines. Furthermore, e-reader owners are 23% more likely to be heavy print users.

Therefore, an increase in electronic reading does not signal a decrease in reading print.

(Other interesting findings of the study: men are more likely to own tablets and women are more likely to own e-readers. Also, e-reader owners are mostly reading books, at 87%; magazines come in at 15% and newspapers, 14%. Tablet owners are more even, with book reading at 57%; magazines, 39%; and newspapers, 41%.)