Skip to main content

iPads and ebooks

Sorry if you hate multimedia - it is just turning out to be one of those weeks.

According to the Bookseller, there has been a report published that says that just because people buy iPads they don't necessarily read ebooks. Apparently 40% of owners have not read a book on the device and 45% say that instead they read ebooks on PCs or Macs.

Apart from the rather confusing combination of numbers, I think the first statistic isn't entirely surprising. To start with, a lot of people, even iPad users, still buy paper books. I think it's interesting to put the hype about ebooks into perspective that last year sales of consumer ebooks in the UK amounted to £16 million out of a total book market of £3.1 billion. Now admittedly that's growing fast - it was just £4 million the year before - but it's a still a very small piece of the market. So I suspect some iPad owners simply prefer to read from paper in many circumstances. Others simply won't be book readers at all. Plenty of people play computer games without doing much reading - and the iPad is, at heart, an electronic toy for grownups. A wonderful toy, you understand, but a toy nonetheless.

I do, however, find the second statistic remarkable. I've read ebooks on a computer, on ebook readers and on iPhone/iPad - and the iPhone/iPad interface is so much more natural and pleasant to use than the rest. Yes, you might access a bit of an ebook on a PC or Mac to use as a reference for something you are working on, but why would anyone sit down to read a book cover to cover on a PC screen when they own an iPad? I think that number needs greater investigation.

What the article doesn't point out is that that if 40% don't read ebooks on their iPads, 60% do - which is still quite a lot of people. At the moment I'm a rather on the fence. When my iPad finally arrives I will certainly try out ebooks. I do currently use them occasionally on my iPhone, particularly when I'm stuck somewhere with nothing to do. But I like having the physical items to browse on the shelf, and I like the reassurance they will still be there in 20 years time or more (I have books on the shelf that were bought 100 years ago by my grandparents

If you aren't the kind of person who gets rid of all their books once they've read them (and many do), then ebooks can't help but feel a bit ephemeral. Admittedly I don't keep all the books I buy, but the rest I resell on Amazon Marketplace. Can I do this with my ebooks? I'm inclined to think I'll end up with a hybrid mix of the two, but it's the paper books that I'll treasure the most.


  1. I think "hybrid" is the catch phrase of the future. Sure people charish their libraries and will never let them go - but with an e-reader, they can take the entire thing on vacation with them and not pay a baggage fee.

    But let's not forget all of that stuff we have on 5" floppy discs that it would take an archeologist to put into our computers today.

    Books on paper, pictures on film, don't need uprades to work with Windows 2050.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope