Do You Read E-Books on Your Phone?

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

If you and your friend are like most Americans, one of you probably owns a smartphone; according to the latest data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, some 45% of U.S. adults own a smartphone. The numbers go up for people between the ages of 18 and 29 (66%) and 30 and 49 (59%).

But if you’re a Digital Book World reader, you are likely to own a smartphone and to read e-books on it, too. After publishing the numbers above earlier today, I asked our 20,000+ Twitter followers if they read on their phones.

We asked: Do you read on your smartphone? Do you read on other devices, too? Tell us!
(Click here to join the debate on Twitter.)

Dozens of responses later, here’s what they had to say:

 

“I read on multiple devices, including my phone”

About half of the responses were a list of devices on which someone can read. They ran the gamut from iPhones and iPads to Kindles, Sony eReaders and Blackberries.

“On my iPhone, iPod touch and Kindle. Soon on kindle fire,” Tweeted Elia Molinari (@elisamolinari).

“I read on iPad at home & iPhone eg while traveling, w/ Kindle app, automatic synching,” Tweeted Drux (@drux8802).

“Reading devices: iPhone, iPad1 & 2, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, TouchPad, Kobo Touch. That’s normal, right?,” Tweeted Dean Johnson (@activrightbrain).

About half of the answers we got (15 out of about 30 in total) were of this variety and they outnumbered the next answer by about two to one….

 

“I never read books on a smartphone”

Many of those who gave this general answer also gave reasons why. Many of them read other things aside from books on their phones, too.

“I found an iPhone’s screen real estate to be too small for reading books. Articles yes. iPad/Nook for everything else,” Tweeted Iris Amelia (ePubPupil).

“I read books and novels in my Kindle, tutorials and PDFs in my iPad and nothing in my smartphone,” Tweeted Paco Toledo (pacotole).

Some tried it but just didn’t like it.

“Have tried to read on my iPhone but prefer my Sony T1,” Tweeted Ostslukaren (@Ostslukaren).

While smartphones might not be the ideal book-reading device for everyone, for a select few, it’s the only book reading device….

 

“I only read on my smartphone”

Only one of our respondents indicated that their smartphone was their only e-reading device.

“I read on my smart phone now almost exclusively. I DO own a Kindle device, but the phone is more convenient for me,” Tweeted Bob Hathaway (@ScubaBobH).

Don’t worry, Bob, you’re in good company. Kobo’s executive vice president of content, sales and merchandising Michael Tamblyn told us that he only reads on his iPhone.

 

Clearly, the Digital Book World readership represents the vanguard. Publishers should take note: What does the rise of the phone as reading device mean for e-book production, design, sales and marketing?

5 thoughts on “Do You Read E-Books on Your Phone?

  1. Jaxs

    I started reading on my first iPhone because of necessity/convenience way back when Secure eReader’s .pdb was considered the \new\ industry standard & their app was available for the Apple store.  At home it was my MacBook (way back since the dawn of ebooks) until  I was gifted an iPad which was so much lighter to use in bed or wheelchair!! ( I’m a quadriplegic) 

    Received a Nook for my birthday two years ago so it would safer for outside at beach etc but it died unexpectedly after 8 mos but it could only read .pdb & ePub. So back to an iPhone 3 for my reading pleasures which I admit to having some difficulty holding but no problem with fonts, lighting or using a mouth stylus! Since it is so touch sensitive it doesn’t need heavy pressure to change pages which is a big advantage over some emerging ereaders that required that you press a physical button . 
    Now have Kobo Vox and screen cracked during a charging period giving off a funny odour! Still can read books though but worry about cutting fingers since I have no sensation.(Vox could read same as iPad but not .pdb unless converted ) 
    So again back to iPhone 4! So guess the smartphones are great for many reasons. I have books in these apps: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Google, Diesel, iBook, Overdrive,  BlueFire(essential as a backup), Comic stores, and because I started reading ebooks awhile before most folks, I need the eReader app to read my 700 Fictionwise books and lastly Stanza since it linked to Baen WebScription where all books are free to medically qualified disabled.

    I’m asking you? What other device can offer this service so I can keep all my current libraries! I cannot be the only consumer who has shopped at more than one store!! On my laptop they are all in one library and can be easily read or if I choose, I convert them and send to the eReader format needed.  As of now, there is no such library mgt program for the smartphone and other than Apple  I know of no other device where all of the apps can be downloaded and run great with your books syncing across your devices! I’ve tried a few Android tablets & phones and they cannot match the ebook app coverage that the iPhone & iPad have.(

    Reply
    1. WonkeyDonkey

      This article is great and points to an interesting hole in the market in my opinion. The numbers for people that read exclusively on their phones is extremely low. Is this because they are bad devices to read on? No. It’s because people who read a fair bit, generally have either an ereader, or at least a tablet, because the reading experience on these devices is undoubtedly better for heavy / regular readers.
      To buy a book to read exclusively on a smartphone requires something to change. Either the price has to fall to compete with other media such as games and video, or there has to be some other benefit that makes it attractive.
      I compare the ereader /tablet owner to a traditional book buyer who would buy the hardback, or possibly the newly released paperback. This group are people who like to keep their books, and to be seen to have a collection, people who might belong to a service like Goodreads and share their opinions /reviews with strangers as well as friends.
      The smartphone reader on the other hand, is more like the second hand buyer, who likes to pick up a cheaper copy from a charity shop, read it and then either pass it on, or take it back to the charity shop so that someone else can read the story.
      There is something more philanthropic about these readers. They want to experience the story but not to own the book. They want others to benefit too, so rather than keeping the book, they share it, either directly with a friend or indirectly by returning it for someone else to buy. Of course, it may well not be philanthropy but price consciousness that makes them buy the less expensive copy. Rather like renting a movie instead of buying the DVD.
      This parallel is interesting too. It’s why file sharing spread like wildfire. Leaving aside piracy driven by lack of territorial availability. The second word is the important one, sharing, it’s what we all love to do. If we find something great, we tend to tell friends about it straight away. This is for two reasons, firstly we are seen to be sharing something valuable even if it is just information, and secondly, because we genuinely want others to benefit from that knowledge.

      Reply
  2. WonkeyDonkey

    This article is great and points to an interesting hole in the market in my opinion. The numbers for people that read exclusively on their phones is extremely low. Is this because they are bad devices to read on? No. It’s because people who read a fair bit, generally have either an ereader, or at least a tablet, because the reading experience on these devices is undoubtedly better for heavy / regular readers.
    To buy a book to read exclusively on a smartphone requires something to change. Either the price has to fall to compete with other media such as games and video, or there has to be some other benefit that makes it attractive.
    I compare the ereader /tablet owner to a traditional book buyer who would buy the hardback, or possibly the newly released paperback. This group are people who like to keep their books, and to be seen to have a collection, people who might belong to a service like Goodreads and share their opinions /reviews with strangers as well as friends.
    The smartphone reader on the other hand, is more like the second hand buyer, who likes to pick up a cheaper copy from a charity shop, read it and then either pass it on, or take it back to the charity shop so that someone else can read the story.
    There is something more philanthropic about these readers. They want to experience the story but not to own the book. They want others to benefit too, so rather than keeping the book, they share it, either directly with a friend or indirectly by returning it for someone else to buy. Of course, it may well not be philanthropy but price consciousness that makes them buy the less expensive copy. Rather like renting a movie instead of buying the DVD.
    This parallel is interesting too. It’s why file sharing spread like wildfire. Leaving aside piracy driven by lack of territorial availability. The second word is the important one, sharing, it’s what we all love to do. If we find something great, we tend to tell friends about it straight away. This is for two reasons, firstly we are seen to be sharing something valuable even if it is just information, and secondly, because we genuinely want others to benefit from that knowledge.

    Reply
  3. Me

    I’ve been reading books in electronic format on the go since my Motorola E395 – days of not charging! Today I read PDF files on galaxy s3 which is still considered to be a phone, or a smartphone.

    It is a very intimate experience I tell you that. Of course PDF’s are better read on tablets, on bigger screens.

    Nowadays smartphones are morphing into personal libraries that you can carry around in a pocket of your jeans, and I think it’s great!

    Reply

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