According to the American Association of Publishers’ figures from August 2011, while the industry has still shrunk 3.8% since last year, eBook sales are up 116%.
While the ability to read novels on a computer has been around for a number years, it considered by most people, including publishers, very unappealing- who wants to read a novel off a computer screen? However with the introduction of the Kindle, the iPad and applications such as iBook that lets users read novels on their smart phones, finally there is an appealing, cheap and convenient option to buying physical books.
Take the iBook web design for instance, something Brisbane web designers can learn from. Firstly and most importantly it is simple to use, automatically connected to your iTunes account and your credit card details which enables purchases to be completed in a matter seconds rather than minutes- a largely mitigating factor when it comes to spur of the moment purchases. Secondly the layout of the application presents the books in a shelf, giving the reader a visual view of their books, not just a list of filenames, and has the added appeal of the ‘achievement factor’, i.e. the reason people like to keep well-populated bookcases in their homes. Thirdly the reading panes are simple and intuitive to use and have the option to shrink or enlarge text, an extremely important tool for older readers (also the largest demographic of readers).
Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, this week, Simon & Schuster released the eBook version of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451. The 1953 novel presents a dystopian future society where people are ruled by electronic devices, reading is outlawed and firemen are sent to burn books. While Bradbury’s novel was a critique of the way he saw American society heading- where no-one reads and everyone is hooked on TV and electronic devises, ironically it may be these very same electronic devices that are keeping people reading at all.