Technological change has taken over many aspects of our lives over recent years, and with radical changes affecting television, music and film industries it is little surprise that the publishing industry has also seen some big changes. eBooks are well and truly on their way to taking over print books, and while that may never actually happen, those choosing eBooks over printed books are a lot more in population these days than they used to be.
However, the rise in popularity of eBooks is changing consumers’ reading habits as quickly as the industry’s technology is changing. And the faster that technology changes, the faster our reading habits become. The ultimate question is: are eBooks making our reading habits unhealthy? Or are we simply speeding up to keep up with the demands of our faster paced lifestyles?
Paper books offer an opportunity for readers to read their chosen prose slowly, taking in all of the important parts and savouring the deliciously well-written literature. It is comparable to eating nutritious food slowly in order to take in all of the nutrients and enjoy the taste of the food sufficiently. On the other hand, an eBook is traditionally read a lot quicker and in a more superficial way – readers will scan pages and not take in all of the details in order to get through it faster, and as opposed to paper books it is much harder to flick back through the pages in order to double check some information that the reader has missed.
Many readers might say that their main purpose of reading in pleasure, perhaps it is for information, or perhaps it is for enjoyment. One of the most important purposes of reading, however, is to think, and those that read regularly on an eReader move along much more briskly than they would do if they read a paper book, leaving no time to linger and think as they go. eBooks, in this case, will defeat their own purpose; deep thinking, lingering and slow reading do not mix with technology.
eBook sales have recently plateaued, but sales have not begun to decrease, suggesting that those fans of digital books are not losing interest, despite the change in their reading habits. Some might suggest that in order for eBooks to retain their popularity, the way that they are read will have to become more thoughtful, more social and perhaps even more innovative. The future is bright for eBooks, but the changing reader habits that we have discussed may also mean that the future will stay bright for paper books.