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article imageOp-Ed: Technology impacts reading habits

By Ajit Jha     Nov 17, 2013 in Internet
The onset of Internet technology has led to an explosion of content and redefined publishing, their format, tools, diversity and accessibility of content. In effect, the technology driven publishing industry is growing as never before.
However, it is not the traditional publishing industry but self publishing that is propelling the industry on an unparalleled growth trajectory in tandem with the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, and Sony reader.
According to a study conducted by Marketing and Research Resources Inc., 40 percent of the 1,200 e-reader owners surveyed said that they read more than they used to with print books, while 58 percent read about the same.
The arrival of e-readers is beginning to have an impact upon the popular reading habits as evidenced by a 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study not only found that Americans are reading less than they used to but also that almost 50 percent of Americans aged 18-24 read no books.
In 2010, some 11 million Americans owned a digital reading gadget, according to Forrester Research, while the e-books sales grew, according to the Association of American Publishers at a whopping 183 percent in the first half of 2010 in comparison to a year earlier.
People have begun to read more with increased sales of reading devices. Amazon, the biggest seller of e-books claims its customers purchased 3.3 times more books after buying a kindle. A distinct shift is taking place in readership driven by technology with increasingly more people reading e-books.
However, it is not how much they read, rather what they read is important. According to the National Endowment for the Art’s 2012 survey on public participation in arts, in 2008, 50 percent of the Americans read a work of literature, (which excludes non-fiction) which dropped to 47 percent in 2012. This is the rate of literary readings back to 2002 level. In other words, literary reading is declining in America.
The drop in literary reading since 2008 is evident in all age groups. The maximum drop of 6 percent was found among readers in the middle age group of 35-44 years, while a 5 percent drop was noticed in 45-54 and 55-64 age groups.
Perhaps the concern with declining literary readership is reflected in Project Gutenberg and a slew of other websites designed to promote and popularize literary reading among e-readers. Towerbabel has its tag line “Fall in love with books again.” Like Project Gutenberg, towerbabel too offers readers some of the best literary works free to read. Some of the top literary works like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, The Kama Sutra and several more are among the featured books on their site that are free to read.
It is not known, however, whether these efforts can attract the increasingly growing number of young Internet users hooked to gadgets and games. What is nevertheless certain is that there are still a large number of readers with passion for literary classics, who will keep the literary classical tradition alive.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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