There is some important data about ebooks presented in a recent article posted on The New Yorker magazine website. Among the figures and reflections readers/writers should mull over is the allegation that ebooks, at present, only claim an estimated “three to five percent of the market.” On a positive note, that percentage represents an increase of a “hundred and seventy-seven percent increase in 2009 [alone]” of all books sold. Moreover, “it was projected,” writes Ken Auletta, that ebooks will eventually account for between twenty-five and fifty percent of all books sold.”
This makes perfect sense to me. As a writing teacher, I see, at modest estimate, a quarter of my students with laptops or some other device with which they can surf the web, read online articles and books, and IM each other (naturally, while in class). Some students speak of Kindles their grandparents have bought them.
When mandating a book report, I give them the choice of hard copies from the library (three minutes away on foot) or ebooks/burned CD books.
There are other interesting reflections in this New Yorker article, including Steve Jobs’ claim–which he is certainly not the first to make– that “people don’t read anymore.” He said this right after noting that it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the product (book reader device or book?) is anymore. Hmmmm. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year,” he added.
Aw, gee, break my heart. So 40% of 309 million people read one book or less. That leaves, what, over 180 million people who do read?
As a teacher, I hear this all the time–“people do not read anymore.” My students, who are after associate degrees at the very least, tell me they don’t read while they are buying the ebooks they opt for because the campus library is so far away (three minutes, remember?). We have great conversations about those books in class. If these students do not see themselves as readers, who cares? Just so long as they keep reading–and I will use every trick in the book/ebook to make sure they do.