Do owners of e-readers read more books?

Infographic Labs is a website that specializes in creating interesting and useful “information graphics” — graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. On May 28, 2012, it published an “infographic” showcasing the current trends in e-reading in the United States.

The infographic cites some of the results from the Pew Research Center’s recent study on e-reading in the United States. The most noteworthy is certainly the finding that the average reader of ebooks reads 24 books per year, when compared to 15 by non-ebook readers.

Interestingly, the infographic also shows that ebook readers are indeed book buyers — while 61 percent of ebook readers have paid for their ebooks instead of simply borrowing them, only 48 percent of all readers have done so.

Combining these two findings, and in view of the recent lawsuit against Apple Inc. and five American publishers for conspiring to raise ebook prices, one wonders whether the present low prices of ebooks (mainly offered by Amazon.com) are a contributing factor to the phenomenon that more Americans are buying and reading ebooks.

Indeed, seeing the common ebook price of US$0.99-2.99 and knowing that with one click and one click only, an ebook can appear on one’s screen anywhere in the world in seconds, it is pretty difficult not want to buy. Even if the ebook turns out to be poorly written and/or formatted, the amount of money one has spent on it is too trivial for one to seriously hold a grudge. As people say, there are still plenty of fish in the ocean.

Particularly for international readers who have to wait for weeks for their purchased paper books to arrive from the United States, ebooks are a godsend. Readers in the United States may find this hard to believe, but in recent years it has become increasingly expensive to purchase a paper book from another country because the delivery costs more than the book itself.

If one can find an ebook that is cheap and can be delivered within seconds, then why should one not buy it? Since the content of an ebook is no different from that of its paper counterpart, to the reader the pleasure of reading should be the same. That is, if one likes the story itself, not how it is published.

Exactly why owners of e-readers in the United States tend to read more books remains a question. However, for international readers, the answer is pretty clear — the cheap price, and the convenience or user-friendliness. How can American writers take advantage of this and promote themselves to the world?

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