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E-Reading on the Rise, Print Not Dead Yet

booksJust because more and more people are reading e-books doesn’t mean they’ve stopped reading physical books. That’s according to the latest post-holiday study done by the Pew Research Center.

According to Publishers Weekly, most people who read e-books read print books as well. Only 4% of readers consider themselves to be “e-book only.” The study also found that people are reading more in general. American adults are averaging about 5 books per year, a slight increase from the study done at the end of 2012.

The study found that about half of Americans now own either a tablet or e-reader. This is a likely explanation for why there are also more people reading across multiple formats — like print, digital and audio, as Andrew Albanese explains.

  •         87% of e-book readers also read a print book in the past 12 months, and 29% listened to an audiobook.

  •         84% of audiobook listeners also read a print book in the past year, and 56% also read an e-book.

  •         A majority of print readers read only in that format, although 35% of print book readers also read an e-book and 17% listened to an audiobook.

  •         Overall, about half (52%) of readers only read a print book, while just 4% said they only read an e-book, and just 2% only listened to an audiobook. Some 9% of readers said they read books in all three formats.

As an avid reader, I certainly read across all platforms. I read physical books, Nook books, and listen to audiobooks. I have some friends who prefer reading through the Kindle app on their phone, others who use their tablets. Reading books takes all different forms these days. But hey — at least we’re reading.

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Amazon Buys Social Media Book Site Goodreads

If people read books and then post reviews online — and don’t have their own blog, like this one! — there’s generally two places they’ll post them: Amazon and Goodreads. But now, the two are becoming one.

According to Salon, Amazon has bought the social media book site Goodreads. For more than a year, the site has used Amazon Product Advertising API for book data. Ever since then, Amazon has had somewhat of a grip on Goodreads, forbidding Goodreads to use that data in its mobile app. But now Amazon has tightened the reigns.

The terms of the deal were not made public. But people in the book industry are comparing this to Hitler and the Nazi invasion of Poland, which doesn’t bode well for Goodreads, authors, or its users.

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Are Serialized E-Books the Way of the Future?

E-books have certainly broken into the publishing industry with force, but really, what else do they have to offer other than being more portable than physical books? That’s what some publishers are beginning to ask themselves.

That’s also why, according to The New York Times, some are trying to push the platform forward with serialized e-books — digital books that come out in small increments on a regular basis, like a TV show. Publishers and authors hope this will help to make the books more interactive and attractive to readers, as Julie Bosman explains.

One of the most talked-about new experiments is taking serialized fiction a step further. […] it is a novel called “The Silent History” that is available on the AppleiPhone and its iPad. It includes interactive, user-generated elements. The app itself is free, but readers pay for the book’s content, which arrives in daily installments of about 15 minutes’ worth of reading. […] They wrote a 160,000-word book and, using the iPhone for inspiration, created a “scavenger hunt” element allowing readers to see more story lines by visiting specific locations — like China and Washington, D.C. — that are outlines on a map within the app. Users can also add their own story lines.

This all sounds like a good idea in theory, but as the article mentions, enhanced e-books with audio and video features haven’t had much success.

On a personal note, I have friends that get so frustrated with their e-readers, they’ve given up on trying to download books to it altogether. I can’t imagine they’d want to download small portions of books every week or participate in scavenger hunts. In my opinion, if you want to read a book, you just read it. No fuss. Thoughts?

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E-Readers Are Getting More Social

Here are a few reasons why e-readers are great: they’re portable, can hold hundreds of books in one device, and have wifi and Internet capabilities. Here are a few reasons why some are still hesitant to purchase an e-reader: setting bookmarks can be difficult, as can adding notes and highlights — though they are all still possible, and of course there’s just nothing like reading a real book.

But the e-reader experience may just be getting started. According to the Los Angeles Times, reading is becoming more and more like a social network. It’s called “social reading.” For instance, on the Amazon Kindle, people can post favorite passages to Facebook and Twitter. On Canada’s popular Kobo e-reader, you can see what people are reading, if they’re reading what you are, and join in on their comment string about the book. It not only bookmarks your pages; it keep statistics about your reading habits.

On an app called Subtext, readers can even connect with the author, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Built for the iPad and launched less than two months ago, Subtext offers all of the social reading elements with the added bonus of content from authors themselves. “I was very excited about this,” says Amy Stewart, author of “Wicked Plants” and “Wicked Bugs,” an L.A. Times bestseller….Marginal icons show where she added links, video, color images and commentary, including a “Spoiler Alert” warning just to see how the function worked (the determined reader has to tap a second time to see the spoiler). Just like on Facebook, Stewart can respond to reader comments, which also are indicated by icons in the margin.

For some, I imagine social reading could be a bit much. But since we’re social about everything else nowadays, why wouldn’t we be social about more clever habits, like reading? And as the article points out, it’s also the perfect way to enhance reading in a classroom. For those who are not interested in social reading, stick to a good old-fashioned book. But I wouldn’t entirely discount it.

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Why the NY Public Library is Flourishing

“The New York Public Library is getting webbier by the day,” wrote The Atlantic reporter Alexis Madrigal in his compelling piece about the NYPL, one of the most famous libraries in the world.

In an age where libraries are dying due to e-books, budget cuts, and the ever-expanding “go green” and “paperless” movements, the New York Public Library not only remains open, but it makes significant profits. Granted, the NYPL receives massive donations unlike most other small libraries around the country. But the reason it’s succeeding is because of its  web-savvy ways. By connecting with library users through social media, the library is allowing people to expand on the information it’s already collected. Madrigal explains.

“Every magazine, television network, or radio station with an archive is sitting on gold. Get that stuff out of the basement and put it online for free, where people can link to, remix, and use it. But don’t just dump it there. Take advantage of what the web can do. Structure the work, as NYPL’s strategy head says, so that people can improve on your collection…When you put information in the hands of people, they come up with all kinds of stuff that people within an institution might not think about.”

For instance, the library has created its own iPad app, Biblion. And most recently, it launched a new log-in system through Bibliocommons, which both simplifies and strengthens the library’s catalog.

You can read much more about all of this in Madrigal’s article, “What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library.”

It’s lengthy, but interesting and might give other media a clue about how to better connect with users, increase profit, and improve resources simultaneously.

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