Thought Leadership

Do e-books make me read more?

By Colin Walls

About a year ago, I was speculating on whether e-books would really catch on [with me and/or everyone else]. Things have moved on. I am still a very enthusiastic iPad user – even buying one for my partner earlier in the year – and use it every day for a variety of purposes. A significant use is reading e-books. To me, the benefits of having books so immediately to hand and being able to access a whole library when traveling have been a real boon.

But e-books and having a significant effect on wider society …

Last year, Amazon announced that e-books were out-selling hardback volumes. Recently, it was paperbacks that were outsold. I guess the next landmark will be when e-books out-sell all paper books. My money would go on this occurring before Christmas this year.

The attractions of e-books are widely recited, as I have above, but I believe there are some more subtle factors. For example, I was listening to the radio this morning and there was a serialization of a book. Historically, the radio has been a common source of inspiration for my reading and this book sounded very interesting. So, I was soon online reading details of the book. When I spotted that it was available as an e-book – one click and it would be mine immediately – I was certainly tempted. As it happens, the price was not particularly attractive, so it went on my Wish List.

Over the years, I have observed that I go through phases [of perhaps a few years] when I read a lot. Then, that can tail off and I have a non-reading period. Although this is influenced by what is going on in my life – lots of travel results in much reading, for example – I still think there is a cycle. Of late, I have been almost voracious in my reading – enjoying book after book. Is this because I have entered a new phase or is it the influence of e-books?

I have heard from others that the acquisition of an e-book reader and led to them reading more than ever. My partner is not a gadget freak – she uses technology when she sees a clear benefit. For her, the [or, rather, my] iPad was love at first sight. She is now a total convert to e-books and can barely understand why anyone would put up with the inconvenience of the old kind. She does not do things by halves.

It has been a long time coming, but I think that real change has occurred in the (e-)reading world. I believe that this will become even more significant when the loan of e-books [or, at least, a good business model for same] becomes widely available. I would be very interested to hear by comment or email about your e-book experiences. If you are interested, I maintain another blog, specifically about my reading habits, here.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at