How we read

There’s been a lot of things said this week about ebooks, both good and bad. It’s good timing for us, as being new and all, we just want to soak up all the conversation.  And for that reason when we first started we decided to do a highly scientific* survey of friends and family, (and their friends and family), outside of publishing to see how they were reading, and how they thought they would read in the future. (*erm, not really)

The results have been interesting, even just amongst a small group of around 40, so we wanted to share them with you. Here at Hot Key, as you know, we love stories, in any form. We read beautiful hardbacks, and also ibooks, ebooks, iphone and Android apps – all at the same time (well, not exactly the same time but you know what I mean!). The way people access stories is definitely changing, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Why is it either/or, and not both and all? Here are some things that came out of our (very) small focus group:

  • Of the people we spoke to it was roughly a 50/50 split between those with, and those without, some form of an e-reading device (ereader, tablet, smartphone etc)
  • Age didn’t make much difference – many of our under 25 year old respondents weren’t reading digitally at all
  • Around half of those that didn’t have a device were either planning to buy one, or thinking about buying one, in the near future
  • Those that had tablets, or smartphones, weren’t really using them to read fiction (“For books or anything over 5 (letter or A4 sized) pages then yes print only, for newspaper articles I’ll read it on my computer or phone”)
  • Of the e-reading half only three said they read every book digitally. The majority said they read maybe every other book, or around 50/50 print and digital
  • The most common reason for digital reading was unsurprisingly convenience on a commute or on holiday
  • The most common reason for buying print books (even amongst digital readers) was having it on your bookshelf at home. (A few people said they regularly buy both editions – ebook for commuting, HB for home)
  • One person said ereading had re-introduced them to reading again, and nearly all digital readers said they now read MORE books than before
  • When asked how much they thought a children’s fiction ebook should cost – most of respondents said between £3 – £5 or around half the price of the print edition
  • Over a quarter said they wouldn’t consider buying digital formats for children, as they wanted them to grow up with the physical book, or be able to choose their own books from bookshops
  • The majority of respondents said they would buy HB/PB for gifts for children but digital formats for travel/holidays and Apps perhaps  to share on a family iPad/tablet

Now as we said, this is a TEENY TINY SAMPLE of people. But I’m going to put my neck out and say that it hints at something I already thought: people like the choice that digital reading provides them, but they don’t consider that the end of their bookshelf. Books on a bookshelf are still treasured, and where children are concerned I don’t think many people like the idea of gifting an email that says ‘Hey I bought you an ebook, click here to download it!’

We’d love to hear what everyone thinks. Please take our survey yourself here, or tell us below how you mostly read now and see yourself reading in the future, and we’ll check back in a month or so to share more results with you!