April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
I just returned from the LA Festival of Books and on my plane trip home, as I juggled between my iPad and a paperback, I wondered about the future of reading. Some think we are in a transition as disruptive as Gutenberg’s printing presses more than 500 years ago. In fact, some in Silicon Valley think Gutenberg was the first technology geek and call him their patron saint.
The Facts, Please!
Women contributed to 58% of book purchases in 2012, up from 55% in 2011.
According to Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans now have some type of handheld device–either a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle– for reading e-content. That number is up from 43% of adults who had either of those devices in September 2013, so adoption is growing.
Some 76% of all adults have read a book in the past year, but 82% of women have read a book in the past year. The typical adult read or listened to five books during the year but the median number of books read by women was 14 books. Those who read books on an e-reader tend to be more female, while gender is fairly evenly split on iPad book readership. The amount we read has stayed fairly level the past few years.
But here’s an interesting statistic. The majority of those reading e-readers still read print books as well. Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.
Sure, publishing is changing. Bookstores have become curated collections, not mass marketers, and writers are unchained and able to post their own books to Amazon. But as I walked through the LA Festival of Books and saw and heard people lovingly hold and share their books and heard authors speak of their inspirations, I realized that story is still alive and well. And that is the future of reading.
October 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
For those who were speculating about the success of the iPad mini, don’t speculate anymore. It seems that the iPad mini may be sold out online based on the two-week delay in shipping currently.
But who is buying it? According to Quartz, Apple is targeting women. The advertising planned for the iPad mini is being placed in women’s magazines and television shows that cater to women like the Today Show.
While the iPad has been embraced by consumers, men seem to prefer the iPad (53% ownership) versus women’s 57% preference for e-readers (such as Kindle). Women embraced the Kindle for its size, portability and usage as an e-reader. But the new iPad mini seems to level the playing field.
I carry big handbags so my iPad fits in nicely, but for many women, the handbag test would rule out the regular iPad. But the new iPad mini is just like Goldilocks said – “It’s just right.” So watch out, this holiday season, as women are charging through their holiday shopping, it may be on an iPad mini.
October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday I had one of those days of beauty and clarity all rolled into one. It is one of the days that I consider the most special of all year. A beautiful day devoted to beautiful words – The Southern Festival of Books. It’s part pilgrimage, part homecoming and part relish in all things written. For three glorious days in October, book groupies can hear the prolific to the profound writers talk and read in the most low-tech, high brow way imaginable, seated in chairs usually assigned to senators and representatives in the hallowed halls of Tennessee state government. There we sit in legislative seats voting with our presence for the written word.
I had the privilege of hearing writers like Clyde Edgerton, Walter Mosley, and Charles Frazier read and discuss writing and their works. I am sure it is a bit of a lab experiment for the writers, being poked and dissected like some biology specimen. But it is very personal to their fans who have a very intimate relationship with them through words.
Ann Patchett asked to forego the usual introduction, comparing it to listening to one’s own obituary. Not only is Ann Patchett a beloved Nashville writer but she is also gaining universal Nashville affection for bringing back an offline bookstore to my own neighborhood. After the recent demise of both independent and chain bookstores, Nashville is currently a book culture desert. Of course, we can order books from Amazon and download our Kindles and iPads, but the days of our beloved book friends like Stephanie Freudenthal at Davis Kidd Bookstores are gone. Ann said she came to the Festival this year, not as a writer, but as a bookseller, defending that personal relationship that exists between a reader seeking a new book and the guide who helps them with such a find.
Ann entertained us with a wonderful new discovery – a conversation with Edith Pearlman, a small elegant woman, whose newly published collection of short stories Binocular Vision is itself an elegant treat. But what interested me the most was the power of discovery and sharing discoveries with others. Ann met Edith when she was editing Best American Short Stories and selected two of her stories for the 2006 annual collection. With much admiration for her work, Ann wrote an introduction to Edith’s book which her publisher used to promote the book – not the book but the Ann Patchett preface.
Some may wonder what will happen to the printed word, but this is where the clarity comes in. As long as there are those like Ann Patchett who believe in the important gift of discovery, the written and printed word will continue. Oh yes, we will download some books from Amazon, but just like vinyl records have made a comeback, cookbooks are an obsession and sewing is an artisan craft, so books will remain cherished, shared and passed on to others in gestures of generosity.
I wandered around the Festival book table, hungry to pick up these 20th Century artisan products. And to protect my literary planet, I purchased three real printed books on Saturday, my own personal vote for the continuing fellowship of readers and writers. I hope to run in to you at Ann’s new bookstore Parnassus. Let’s hope the Muses inhabit it!
Postscript: Ann Patchett has opened a fabulous new bookstore Parnassus Books in Nashville. Even the New York Times covered the opening. In my daughter’s words, “It’s a beautifully curated bookstore.” Translation: It has all the books I would want to read, and none of those that are not important.
March 1, 2011 § 7 Comments
This weekend I spent a lot of time in airport waiting areas and on planes reading the new Cleopatra biography by Stacy Schiff on my iPad. As I read the book, I started thinking about book consumption and how, even though I love bookstores, I didn’t think a minute about downloading Cleopatra when I needed a good read. Heck, I didn’t even visit the airport bookshop. Evidently, I am in good company because some 21% of book shoppers now own a dedicated e-reader or tablet.
Ironic, isn’t it, that I was reading about Cleopatra, the best educated women in her time, who presided over the world’s most famous library in Alexandria, full of scrolls, the predecessor of books. But I digress.
Here are some startling facts that really point to the disruption happening in the book world today.
1. Women are the main purchasers of books. Cleopatra evidently started a trend. We contribute to 64% of all book sales. Even in the detective and thriller genres (think Robert Ludlum and Stephen King), we buy 60% of the titles. Oh, and as a tribute to Cleopatra’s magnificent new biography, the best selling non-fictions are biographies. Source: 2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report
2. Baby Boomers make up the largest group of book purchasers. Some 30% of book sales are by boomers, followed by Matures at 16%. Only 40% of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009. Source: 2009 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report
3. Some 51% of e-reader owners are women. And 75% of those e-reader owners have read a book on their e-reader, while only 15.3% have read a magazine. Oh, and even the world’s best selling book, the Bible, has gone digital with e-Bibles being a top seller on Apple’s iTunes Bookstore and Amazon’s Kindle Store.
4. Approximately 7 million American adults own an e-reader (Kindle, Nook) and another estimated 15 million own iPads. It seems that Amazon is cagey about sales reports since so many more iPads have been sold, but they are quick to say that Amazon sells 115 eBooks to every 100 paperbacks sold; and 3 eBooks for every hardcover book it sells.
5. Digital reader penetration will grow from 20% in January to 36% in the summer of 2011. The trend will continue to grow because only 14% of print book readers say they would never read a book in digital form. Like smartphone adoption, digital readers will continue to be the hot item for the 2011 holidays. The new iPad will only contribute to the added “crave
6. Traditional bookstores account for less than half of the book market. The majority of books were sold by a variety of retailers including Amazon, Price Clubs, supermarkets and convenience stores. Amazon has 22.6% of the book market. One publishing consultant predicts that shelf space devoted to books in physical stores will decline by 50% during the next five years.
Amazon controls about 76% of the U.S. market in digital books and wants more. Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle content, says “Our vision is [to make] every book ever written, in any language, in print or out of print, all available within 60 seconds. And we want to make the customer experience great.” Roll over, Google and Gutenberg!
8. If Kindle prices keep falling, it is predicted that at some point Amazon may offer them free to loyal customers. The price cuts provided by Amazon on Kindles have helped contribute to the popularity of the devices and at some point, Amazon may take the same approach that cell phone providers have used by supplying the reader for free with the purchase of e-books.
9. Backpacks may get lighter as e-textbooks take over the classroom. And sore backs and poor posture may be a thing of the past for kids that often carry backpacks with books weighing half the child’s weight. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, e-textbook sales are expected to more than double to $308 million from $138 million this year. Those textbooks are expected to be accessed through iPads and Kindles.
10. College libraries are going bookless. According to NPR, students, professors and universities are staging a rebellion against the weighty and wasteful books. Stanford University’s brand new physics and engineering library is “bookless”; relying almost solely on digital material. “Free and downloadable textbooks are at the heart of the growing “open educational resources” movement that seeks to make education more available and more affordable.” The beauty of digital books is the ability to update content easily and to make the content rich with visuals, videos, interactive and more.
Public libraries are following suit, beginning to offer e-books to their users. OverDrive, Inc., which supplies electronic books to 13,000 libraries worldwide, reported a 200% increase in e-book circulation in 2010 from 2009. Library Journal surveyed 1,000 public libraries late last year and found that 71 percent now offer electronic books.
Books are becoming like albums which have moved from vinyl to CD to digital. The form is changing but a book will still remain important in our world. I think that Cleopatra would have liked it.
February 27, 2011 § 4 Comments
I really don’t know what it takes to be considered a foodie, but those who know me, know that I love to read about food, write about food and even cook food! So as a bonafide, chunky hunk of burning love for food, here are some online recipe news that you can use.
Just Google it! Some 10 million of its daily searches are recipe related so Google decided to make searches more robust for foodies, Of course, you can google beef stroganoff and come up with sites that provide recipes. BUT, drumroll please, now Google has added Recipe View, accessible by a button users can click in the left-hand rail. The new addition went live on February 24 and it offers filters to allow you to search for just the recipe options you need. Clicking the “Recipes” button helps users choose the right recipe from search results by not only offering ratings and pictures, but providing filters for ingredients, cooking time and calorie count for health-conscious chefs.
E-mealz.com is not new, just new to me. It’s the site for extreme couponers to love! It was created to provide a meal planning resource for busy Moms and frugal family cooks. Each meal plan is based on the current sales at the grocery stores, with plan options categorized according to store and/or weight management strategy. The recipes are delicious, simple and easy to follow. Each plan is new every week and has a corresponding aisle-by-aisle grocery list. It costs $5 a month but I think that the time it saves in grocery shopping makes up for the small fee. Heck, even Dave Ramsey endorses it.
For those of us who like to “gift” our recipes, Tastebook is the answer. Tastebook allows you to create really nice custom cookbooks with all of your favorite recipes. Entering the recipes into your account is made even easier with the library of recipes that the site provides. Say that you have used a favorite Bon Appetit recipe and it has become “yours”. The site allows you to find it and populate the recipe into your own group of recipes. You can also share your recipe box online with others. But the real advantage are those great hardback books that cost about $30 each. They have amazing photography, plus you can add your own. My Chinese Lettuce Wraps are accompanied by a photo of Carter Dunham in China! The new news here is that they have an app for iPhones, iPads and iPods. Daily Candy calls it iTunes for Recipes! And I agree.