I hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday season so far!
Surrounded by family, gifts, and (of course) books, I couldn’t help wondering what the future of e-reading holds. By all accounts, this season should be a bumper. But just who is buying all those ebooks?
The setting: A double-decker bus lurching through Notting Hill Gate.
The time: Morning rush-hour
The players: Me (of course), a thousand screaming teenagers on their way to school, and half-asleep punters in stodgy business suits heading to the office
Climbing to the top deck, I slip into a seat beside two gabbing girls and get out my Kindle. Glancing around, I engage in a bit of e-reader spotting – I like to catch sight of them in the wild. And lo and behold, there’s one at the front being read, and one to the left of me. And oh look! There’s another behind me!
‘That’s one of them new book reader thingies, innit?’ The girl beside me stabs a pointy red fingernail at my Kindle.
I turn to face her. ‘Yes. It’s a Kindle.’
‘Oh, a Kindle, right. I seen them on TV.’
‘Would you ever get one?’ I ask, curious. It strikes me that I’ve never seen a teenager reading a Kindle. And my earlier glance around the bus proves my earlier empirical research: it’s all people from their twenties upwards holding ereaders.
She shakes her head emphatically, holding up her BlackBerry. ‘Nah. I do everything on this.’
The conversation left me wondering about the next generation of e-readers. Instead of thinking about what they will be, how about who will they be? Will they be the older generation, a demographic that’s increasingly buying into the e-reader market? Or will today’s technology adapt to suit technology-hungry teens who want to do everything on one platform? In many respects, it already is, with integrated devices hitting the market (Kindle Fire, anyone?).
E-books are ideally suited for the younger generation. Having grown up with technology, they don’t invest the same importance in ‘physical’ products – forget about the e-books versus ‘real books’ debate. Existing virtually is almost as good as the real world.
I’m curious: did any of your children ask for e-readers for Christmas? Do they read e-books? Who do you think the next generation e-reader will be?