What About The E-Reader Everyone Owns Already?

A lot of my friends don’t own e-readers and most have no intention of buying one – for now at least. Some are curious about the iPad, and a couple have one, but most don’t see the point of owning that, a laptop, and a smartphone.

When I tell them that I am publishing e-books, they often ask if there will be a print version. Many don’t realise that you can read e-books on your computer.

But even when I explain this, I can see the resistance. They have jobs where they stare at a screen all day, and doing the same when they get home from work is not their idea of relaxation.

I can understand that. When I worked for a tech company, I didn’t want to go near a computer in the evening.

However, some of my friends are heavy readers, and interested in gadgets, but have shown little desire to purchase an e-reader up to now. Why is this?

For starters, these friends are in Europe – mostly in countries where the Kindle hasn’t officially launched. They can purchase it from the US, but it costs a lot more. On top of that, they must pay a $2 surcharge on all e-books purchased, regardless of price. This charge is levied arbitrarily by Amazon, and kept by Amazon. And that’s before sales tax of 15% is added.

It soon adds up. A 99c e-book is a similar price in the UK, but 17% more expensive in Ireland, 50% more expensive in Germany, and costs an astounding $3.44 everywhere else. For those in the “surcharge” countries (which is most of Europe and, indeed, the world), a $2.99 e-book becomes a shocking $5.74.

While I try and redirect those people to Smashwords, I’m only getting that message out to a tiny percentage of people. Even then, Smashwords have no brand recognition and their customer interface is shoddy. I’m sure I lose tons of potential readers.

My books are listed in iTunes now, which should make things a little easier, but I’m not going to delay the launch of each book by a few weeks just to wait until the title finally gets accepted by Apple.

Aside from affecting my bottom line, all of this, of course, is slowing the growth of e-books in Europe, where the market share in most countries is in low single digits. If no-one is buying e-readers, there will be very few sales of e-books.

But, even in the country with the most advanced e-book market, the US, only 12% of the population own e-readers. I think we are missing a trick here. Most people are carrying a device around with them all day every day that can read e-books, and they don’t even know it: their phone.

It’s the perfect e-reader in many ways. It’s light, it’s portable, it’s multi-functional, it slips in your pocket, it’s cheap, and most importantly, you already own it.

Most people don’t know that you can download e-books direct to your phone. It doesn’t seem to be common knowledge that Amazon have a mobile version of their site, which works very well on smartphones.

I certainly don’t aim much of my marketing at people who don’t own e-readers but do own phones, and yet this is the majority of the population.

Most indies are looking to October with excitement. The release of a new iPad, two new Amazon e-readers, new models from their competitors, and a bunch of new competitive prices should see a surge mirroring last year.

First-time e-reader owners will want to load up those machines and could well go on a similar buying spree to last year that boosted many writers’ sales during the holiday period and its aftermath.

The question I want to ask is this: do we need to wait? Shouldn’t we be targeting the millions of people that own smartphones but don’t own e-readers?

It’s a significant number.

In a report by market research company comScore, by the end of 2010, there were 234 million Americans aged 13 or over actively using mobile phones. Out of that number, 63.2 million were using smartphones – a 60% increase on the year before.

I think it’s safe to presume the smartphone number has grown significantly in the six months since then, especially given the continuing strong sales of both the iPhone and its Android competitors.

These numbers dwarf e-reader ownership numbers. And if we just look at the sales of the iPhone alone, in March of this year, Apple announced that they had sold over 100 million iPhones worldwide.

I know from talking to my friends across Europe, that Kindles (or indeed e-readers of any kind) are nowhere to be seen outside of the UK. However, iPhones are everywhere.

I also know that many of my friends were unaware that they could even read e-books on their phones, and once they tried it, they were surprised how enjoyable it was, and how easy it was to browse for and download books.

Targeting phone owners isn’t going to be easy. Most of the companies doing the heavy lifting with regard to e-book awareness and promotion are companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

As they manufacture their own branded e-readers, and want to lock customers into their own stores, they don’t tend to heavily promote the idea of reading e-books on phones.

There is a customer awareness issue that hampers any potential marketing efforts by authors or publishers. Aside from that, I think there is some customer resistance too. Most people don’t realize how pleasurable the phone reading experience can be.

Naturally, their instinct is to assume the screen is too small. However, with the increase of models with large screens, which are perfect for reading, this should begin to break down. After all, most smartphones have a screen wider than the average newspaper column.

Smartphones aren’t the perfect e-reader by any means. A larger screen will allow a more immersive experience, with less page-turning. Those with eyesight difficulties who need a much larger font won’t get too many words per page.

However, for those on the fence about e-readers and e-books, it could be the perfect “gateway drug” to allow them to experience all the advantages that e-books offer.

I have a newsletter which I send to friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues when I release a new title. Most of those aren’t e-reader owners, so for my next release, I am going to sell the idea of reading on phones.

But how do we reach the rest of these smartphone owners? Any ideas? Have you ever tried to target phone owners? Have you had any success?

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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85 Responses to What About The E-Reader Everyone Owns Already?

  1. David Wright says:

    I never read a book on a phone, but I’m thinking I wouldn’t care for the size, either. And I loathe reading lengthy stuff on my computer. But I do think it’s a great way to get people interested or to at least sample what’s happening and invest in a better device.

    One suggestion would be to create a sample chapter app or PDF file which people can directly download from your website onto their phone. You include links to the Kindle, iBook, or whatever versions you have for sale at the end of the chapter. Not that different from what readers can do with Kindle now, but this is more immediate, on your website. I haven’t actually experimented with PDFs on anything as small as a phone, though, so I could be shooting in the dark.

    I think the landscape is going to change even more in the coming year or so when Amazon releases a tablet device to compete with the iPad. If anyone can do a decent device to go head-to-head with Apple AND keep the price down, Amazon is perfectly poised, especially if this means more sales for them.

    • I think PDFs don’t work well on most phones. But there is no reason why you couldn’t have an e-book file of that same sample that they could read on their phones. Interesting idea.

      WordPress is set up great for phones. My blog will automatically detect not just if the user is browsing on a phone, but also what kind of phone, and rejig the site accordingly (and offer them a variety of display preferences). I have samples of both books on my blog – which will read well on phones, but I could work on making them more prominent.

      Amazon’s new products in September will be very interesting. There are a lot of rumours, but the one that seems likely to me is a tablet – possibly a little smaller than the iPad. There is talk of a phone too and/or a mini-tablet.

  2. I personally wouldn’t want to read on my phone (I’m lucky enough to live in the UK and own a Kindle.), but I know a lot of people who are casual readers who don’t mind. One of my readers gleefully informed me she just downloaded my book onto her phone. AWESOME. I honestly hadn’t even thought of it.

    But I still think Amazon needs to get it’s sh*t together.

  3. David,
    I already told you the phone is too small for me. I won’t use it for reading. Truthfully I hate textind on it. It’s just too small. Be that as it may, I have a kindle and an IPAD. I have the first kindle that came out. I won’t change it because I use it mostly for review books but it fills quickly because it doesn’t have much space. My IPAD is wonderful because I have apps for them all: kindle, nook, kobo. I honestly have not bought books from apple. The problem with kindle is I can’t buy books other then amazon. I hate reading on my computer and don’t unless I have too. It is very irritating on the eyes. I am not sure this has much to do with your blog post. I do know I won’t read on my phone.:-)

    • Hey Eva,

      There are a lot of people, like you, who have no interest in reading on phones, for a variety of reasons. The backlit screen will get to the eyes after a while. I’m curious though, how do you find the reading experience on the iPad in that regard, given that it is also a backlit LED screen? Is the Kindle (even the first model) better?

      • David Wright says:

        I have a Kindle and iPad. And while reading on the Kindle is way easier on the eyes, the iPad’s navigation is far superior!

        One thing I did on the iPad was reduce the light’s brightness and change the page color to sepia, which has helped considerably with the eye strain issues.

  4. Katie says:

    I’m told that my book, at 94000 words, equates to 999 iPhone pages. That’s a lot of page turning! It’s not something I’d like to do, but some people don’t seem to mind. How to capture that market though, I’m really not sure.

    I had hoped that I could go to print and use somewhere like The Book Depository to distribute it (I’d lose out on price, but it would save on postage), but now that Amazon is taking over The Book Depository, I guess that idea flies out of the window. Amazon is definitely not user-friendly to those outside the countries it ‘inhabits’.

    • Hi Katie,

      That is a lot of turning. But that book could easily be 400 pages in paperback, so that’s a lot of turning anyway. Plus, the way you hold the phone while reading, I guess your finger is right there ready to press the button. I’m guessing heavy users don’t even notice anymore.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Hey, thanks for the info. I plan to eventually upload a book for sale on Amazon, so it’s nice to know what I’m up against.

    Jen

  6. JJ Toner says:

    Hi David, You say smartphones are cheap. Are they? Last time I checked, the iPhone was Euro 600 (or was it 800?). Certainly way beyond my pocket. My Kindle cost Euro 250 including a fancy cover with a bult-in light.

    JJ

    • Good catch JJ – lazy phrasing on my part.

      What I meant was that many people get them for next to nothing as part of a contract with a phone company, often including regular upgrades.

  7. I read books on my iPhone all the time, as does my husband, who uses his iPhone as his preferred reading device. “Turning” the pages is just a thumb swipe, and honestly, I’d never thought in terms of pages with an e-reader. It is surprising how easy it is to immerse yourself in a book on an iPhone, for example while in the waiting room of a Dr or dentist’s surgery (beats those magazines that have been thumbed through a gazillion times and have who-knows-what number of gazillion germs lurking on every page). I also own a Kindle which is my library in a handbag, an iPad which I use at School (I teach History and Geography – cool apps!) and of course, a computer. Most (conservatively 85%) of the girls at school have iPhones and many will read a book on their iPhone before they’ll pick up a physical book because reading on a phone is seen as cool, and they can listen to their music at the same time. So the younger generation are already taking up the option of using their phones as e-readers. Which is great because I have a vested interest in seeing more people reading on their iPhones, ( iPads, Kindles and whatever other e-reading devices come onto the market too!) as my Georgian Historical Romances (100,00 words +) are selling well and are consistently in the top 100 romance books on iBooks (Australia).
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Kids love iPhones, that’s for sure. It’s like a tractor beam that sucks them in and monopolizes their attention. Nice to hear that reading is “cool” on phones. Whatever gets them reading works for me.

  8. josephine wade says:

    At this time I have a laptop, iPad, and smartphone. I do most of my reading on my iPad and enjoy this very much, however, the reading I’ve done on my smartphone isn’t bad. I thought I would hate it, being so small and all, but after I increased the font size it was nice.

    I wish Smashwords would get their act together marketing wise. They need an app. Something for all these mobile devices. No getting around it. They need something in their name or promotion that let’s people know they are a bookstore — right now when I mention them people give me a blank stare. They need to streamline purchasing their books so it is as mindless as Amazons. Or as close to mindless as possible. People usually buy books one at a time on these things, but only if it is quick and painless. They need to put their best foot forward. Their first page should be a showcase and right now it looks well…like a drugstore bookrack.

    I’m not sure how to get people to upgrade technology. I think just getting the word out that you can do this easily. Maybe linking in the sidebar or in correspondence a link to the different apps?
    Hmm… I have to think about this. I know in my family when we get together we always show the others what new gadget we’ve gotten. We’re a techyish geeky group🙂. But a lot of times a device I thought would be too inconvenient to use turns out to be much easier than I thought.

    I know Amazon made a big push about a year ago(?) to make people aware they could use their computers to read their ebooks (offered free downloads etc.). Maybe they could do this with smartphones.

    Sorry so long.

    • I know Smashwords have done a distribution deal with one app store and they are in the process of shipping all of our books out. That could be interesting. I’m not sure if this app store is well known or whether it will result in many book sales, but it’s a good sign that they are thinking in the right direction. I would love more deals like this.

      They also said that one of their major priorities is cleaning up their store front and the whole buying process. That, as you said, is badly needed.

  9. karincox says:

    I never thought I would read on my phone, but have found that I do quite a bit, and that I quite like the backlit screen because I can read in bed without annoying my early-bird better half by having a reading light on.

    I’m probably one of those people who can’t see the point of buying a Kindle, iPad or other e-Reader when I have an iPhone, an iPod and a laptop.

    • Yeah I’m trying to decide between an iPhone and a Kindle. I doubt I will get both. I think the Kindle would be a nicer reading experience, but that extra portability could be very cool.

  10. writingsleuth says:

    The Sneak Read. I have a kindle, an iPad, and an iPhone. The only time I love reading on the smart phone is when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Say I’m in church trying to get through a boring sermon or I’m at work waiting for the elevator or (the best) in a meeting that goes on and on—with a smart phone and the Kindle or Nook or iBook app, you can read and people think you’re praying or listening or working because a phone is either small enough to hide or, at work, they think you’re reading an email from your boss. I have read whole books that way.

    • That is sneaky, and I like it. I can just see the marketing campaigns now: “Boring job? Why not read this story at work”!!!

    • sabrina says:

      That would call for some kind of warning on the part of the writer, then, if the content was too funny or engrossing to easily conceal the reader’s reactions. A sudden guffaw during the earnings report would be awkward. Something like NSFS, Not Safe For Sneaking?

  11. Lyle Blake Smythers says:

    I don’t want to clutter up this space with my ignorance, so I’ll just ask: where can I go that will explain to me, in simple non-technical terms, the difference between the smart phone, the iphone, the ipod, the ipad, and the android. Everyone talks about them but nobody explains what they are, how they differ, what they do, etc. I feel like I’m in a room full of people talking in a strange dialect that is almost, but not quite, comprehensible. thanks in advance.

    Lyle Blake Smythers

    • Hi Lyle,

      In simple terms, a smartphone is a phone that can browse the internet. They will often have extras such as cameras, WiFi, touchscreens etc., but being able to easily browse the internet is the main distinction between a smartphone and a standard phone.

      The iPhone is just a kind of smartphone, as are all the Android phones.

      The iPod is primarily a music player, but some models can access the internet (and even make calls). The iPad is like a giant version of the iPod, but basically can do most things a computer can (as well as browse the internet), and some extra stuff too.

      Dave

      • Lyle Blake Smythers says:

        Thanks, Dave. That was extremely helpful. Speaking as someone who has historically been very slow to jump on new technology bandwagons, I am interested in whatever will give me the easiest way to get the next chunk of text on the screen without my having to scroll down. Like others here, I spend my entire day on a desktop computer and there’s a lot of scrolling going on as I move through documents and websites.

        So: when I see someone holding something that looks kind of like a cell phone, maybe a little bigger, and they have something from the Internet on the screen and I see them sliding the text up or down with their thumb, what am I watching them use? Is that an iPad or is it some kind fo smartphone, or could it be either one?

        Lyle

      • Lyle,

        It’s probably an iPhone, but could be any of the newest smartphones, they all function in similar ways. Fans of both have said that it’s very intuitive and you barely notice yourself doing it after a while. I really need to get some hands-on experience with this stuff.

  12. I read more books on my Blackberry Bold (the one where the keyboard takes up half the front) than I do on my Kindle.

    I thought it would be odd/awkward/wev too before I tried it with a free download of Mobi Reader. I’ve since added the Kindle app and read there regularly.

    The point of it is that it’s ALWAYS with me. When I have a few minutes to read, I can read. Moreover, when I read on the phone, it syncs to my Kindle as well so my bookmarks are cross platform when I need them.

    David’s right. The smart phone IS the big market opportunity but the obstacle is overcoming the “screen size” bias. Break that and you’re gold.

    Good article David.

    • Interesting, Nathan.

      I didn’t realise the full functionality of the syncing right down to the page you were on. That’s amazing. It also makes my decision on whether to buy an e-reader or a smartphone easier. Sounds like I need both.

      Overcoming the screen size bias is the big one. I need to do some head-scratching on that.

  13. Brondt says:

    Among people I know personally who bought my books, all save one bought to read on a phone. Only one person I know, aside from myself, is an ereader owner. People asked me, “Is it going to be in print?” I’d say, “No, not at the moment, but you can read it on your iPhone/Droid/Blackberry.” And you know what, everyone of them went ahead and downloaded to their phones, and so far as I know, it hasn’t been a problem for them reading on the smaller screen.

    • That’s what I’m finding with my friends. Once you overcome the resistance (which is part screen size, and part simply not knowing you can do it), they all seem to like it. But how do we get that message out to a wider audience?

  14. I never intended to read anything on my iPhone, figuring the screen to be too small and very annoying with the constant page turning. To my surprise, I use it quite a lot. But not for the large blocks of reading time. I use it for “Dad” reading.

    I do most of my reading on my Kindle these days, but what I love my iPhone for is reading a little bit here and there when I have a minute. Like when the kids are watching some show after breakfast, or when they’re in the bathtub playing before bed time. I think the fact that Amazon made the Kindle platform sync every device to the page is, hands down, the most awesome feature.

    I read on my Kindle before bed. I pick up my iPhone in the morning and flip open the book I’m reading, the Kindle app says, “Oh! Damon was last reading this on his Kindle and got to Location X. Would you like to jump to that location?” Why yes, yes I would.

    When I became a parent, my reading dropped off a cliff. I had no time to set aside a few hours in a block to read. Once I got my Kindle and my iPhone, and I was able to read a little here and there (as one commenter noted, my phone is always with me), I rekindled (only a slight pun intended) my love of reading.

    I probably read six books all last year. I got my Kindle for Christmas and have probably read thirty books since then. It’s the combination of devices that makes it possible.

    • I never knew that it synced right down to the page you were on. That’s amazing. And I was very interested to hear how much your reading has gone up. I have a hunch that e-reader owners (or those reading on their phone), have increased the amount they are reading. I don’t think there is a survey done on this yet, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence flying around to support that thesis.

      • Among my group of friends nearly everyone is (or was) a big reader. Jobs, marriage, kids, life made reading time a lot harder to come by. As each of them has gotten a Kindle, iPad, smartphone, what have you, they’ve all gotten back into reading.

        The Kindle played a huge part in me getting back into reading not just because it was easy and convenient to do so but also because of the world of digital self-publishing. I’ve found so many new authors because they price their books low enough for me to pick them up on a whim and read them a little at a time. I’ve really been enjoying short fiction and novellas as sort of “bite-sized” reading that I can finish in a single night or less.

        Also my wife would absolutely kill me if I had read 30 books priced at $7 or more. Suddenly the Kindle Christmas present would be a very regrettable decision on her part.🙂

      • I love hearing this, I really do. More people reading, more people reading short stories. Music to my ears. And the world will be a richer place for it.

  15. Lexus says:

    Downloading Kindle, Nook and iBook apps was the first thing I did when I got my iphone. I carry the phone with me all the time anyway. Why not load it with my library? Because it’s always with me, I read now more than ever – while waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for meetings to start at work, waiting … for anything, really. I love reading on my phone, and don’t mind the small size at all. Although, it’d be nice to have a Kindle or Nook to read on at home.

    Your ebooks, by the way, are accessible on ALL your devices and the Kindle and Nook apps update which page you’re on. For instance, I can read a book on my iphone at lunch, stop on page 103 and pick it up again on an ereader or on my computer at home in the evening.

  16. I’d like a larger screen, but I do use my phone for reading occasionally. I have an iphone, an ipad, and a kindle. I read more on the ipad if I’m inside, but if I’m going to be outside, say on the beach, it’s kindle all the way. I use my phone if I’m stuck somewhere, say the Dept. of Motor Vehicles here in the States – a place that can suck an entire day from your life! I’ll get out my phone and read instead of doing other things. It’s an interesting idea to market to phone users though. Excellent post.

  17. Debora says:

    This is actually one of the reasons I wrote my novellas. They have some features, like short chapters & paragraphs, that I was hoping would make for a pleasurable smart-phone read. I haven’t really spent a lot of time promoting them that way, but I do know a lot of people are reading them over lunch break, which suggests higher phone use. I also use my iphone to read samples – and then if I like the book, I buy and send to my Kindle. It’s freed up my Kindle clutter, but I also get a lot of people asking if I’m reading on my phone – and like you’ve experienced, they’re surprised and interested.

    • Hi Debora!

      I used to eat lunch at my desk so I could read from my computer. It would have been great to have had a smartphone and read a story instead (and get outside).

  18. Just found out from a mate of mine that my newly released novel is #2 in search for the US Amazon iPhone app and #3 in the UK. Which means either a) so few people buy books for iPhone that mine hit the top on two sales or b) most of my readers are reading on iPhones.

    No idea. But it’s kind of cool anyway.

    • That is very cool.

      How do you even see that chart? Do you have a link? It would be interesting to compare the list to other bestseller lists. How did you get your book listed as an app? Or was it just purchased through the iBook or Kindle app?

  19. JJ Toner says:

    I looked it up. iPhone4 16GB is Euro 599, 32 GB version is Euro 699 in Ireland.

    On screen sizes and readability: My Kindle can access the Internet, but the images and text are too small (for me) to read. It’s pretty useless for that. That being so, surely the smartphones must be even worse., having much smaller screens.

    ?

    • JJ,

      Isn’t that to buy the phone separately though, i.e. when you are on a pay-as-you-go deal? Aren’t they much cheaper if you have a contract? Plus, I know there are a bunch of other smartphones which are cheaper. Also, nowadays you are getting a mobile browser, and excellent camera, and a bunch of other stuff all rolled into one. I think a lot of people are taking the 200 Euro they would have spent on a digital camera and adding that to their phone budget.

      Do you not increase the font on the Kindle? Does that not work on the browser? I think many websites (like WordPress) have special versions of their sites to work better with the smaller screen size.

  20. Katina says:

    I did try to target smartphone owners and the #1 complaint I get is that they are not interested in reading a book on a tiny screen. The only people open to the idea were those who use public transportation…it’s a good way to pass the time during the commute.

    • I know there was one indie author who was promoting their short stories, specifically targeting phone users who commute to work. I’ll try and remember who it was, and whether they had any details about how they went about it.

  21. Stephanie says:

    About ten years ago in Ireland, I worked with a guy who was aiming to make business tip books readable on mobile phones. I rewrote the books so a page would show on the display at a time. It was an interesting exercise. But he was ahead of his time and never got anywhere with the idea. Where is he now I wonder! You’re 100% right, we should be formatting books for mobile phones.

    • Ah Ireland. The land of rashers and wistful drunks.

      He was ahead of his time. I wonder if he ever did anything with the idea.

      The cool thing about e-books is we don’t need to format them for phones. The text will wrap and flow automatically if you have done your formatting right.

  22. Werner says:

    Hi David,

    I continue to be astounded by the burdensome (dare I say ridiculous) surcharges on e-books. Is there a way for the international community to avoid it? For example, would it be feasible to be able to go to a place to buy ebooks, from indie published authors, and pay just the stated price using a service like PayPal International? Or are there automatic surcharges levied there as well?

    • Werner,

      This is a topic that infuriates me! The surcharge is dumb for so many reasons, not least because it depresses the growth of e-books and ultimately costs Amazon money (as well as everyone else). I know you can avoid it by buying through Smashwords. Also, my books are only 99c on iTunes, so there’s another option.

  23. Another interesting article as usual, David. Perhaps you could post an ad where smartphone users would see it: “Download Amazon’s free Kindle app for iPhone today and receive a copy of David Gaughran’s Transfection!” or something to that effect. You’d be losing money on the ad and giving your book away for free, but at the same time, you might create readers/fans from thin air for your other books.

    • Bryan, that’s a great idea.

      Even better would be to get a bunch of indie authors to contribute to a “sampler” – much like The Summer Book Club that some indie writers are doing at the moment – with a bunch of chapters from their books, and some exclusive content like essays or short stories. You’ve got me thinking.

  24. Some smart phones come with e-reader apps, and if they don’t, I know you can purchase e-reader apps to put on your shart phone. The ability for an e-reading device to mark and reopen the exact spot where you left off is proving very appealing, particularly to commuters and people on short breaks. and many people are becoming accustomed to the different size screens. If only 12% of readers own e-reading devices and e-sales are climbing like they ARE, I’d say, we are in like a burglar. I’m thinking google must have such an app, but haven’t looked.

  25. Misti says:

    I’m intrigued by the idea of reading a book on a phone. I read e-books on my computer all the time. I’d have no problem reading e-books on a phone.

    If I had a smart phone and data plan, I’d probably do it—but I tend to not think about it much, because I don’t own one.

  26. Randirogue says:

    I read most of my ebooks on my phone. It’s perfect for riding the subway. It’s also great for when I just want to curl on the couch, listening to my husband play his guitar (or some other instrument), and don’t feel like getting up to get a book off the bookcase (I know, lazy, but it’s not every time, lol). The only draw back is battery life. However, I’ve solved that problem with an extension cord near the couch. The one by the bed still isn’t as helpful, though. The length of the phone cable is still eaten up by the distance from the floor (extension cord) to the top of the bed. That’s one of my favorite places to read off my phone, though. It allows me to stay near my husband when he needs to sleep and I can’t drift off yet. Turning on a light to read a traditional book can wake him up. Getting out of bed and moving to the living room is even worse. He gets out of bed to check on me then. That’s not helping him get his much needed rest, now is it? So… all in all… reading ebooks on the phone is FABULOUS in my humble opinion. 😀

  27. Lissie says:

    Interesting in NZ (and Australia I think) there is no surcharge for buying from Amazon – you just pay the US$ price in NZ$ at today’s exchange rate on your CC. Almost all smartphones are prepaid here and data tends to be expensive so I can’t imagine people doing a lot of reading on them. Also connectivitiy is not great – do you know if a smartphone downloads the entire book or only as read it ?

    • Hi Lissie,

      It’s the same in Ireland. But, Amazon used to charge this extra $2 per book in Australia and Ireland (and I presume, NZ), but got rid of it around a year ago. I’m not sure how it works with your phone exactly, but I think it downloads the whole book.

      • JJ Toner says:

        I read somewhere about a woman who downloaded LOST to her phone and was charged $42,000.

        Maybe downloads of books to mobile phones might be very expensive? Perhaps this is the fly in the ointment.

        JJ

      • Books are much much smaller files than streaming TV content. A book will be about the size of a few seconds of video. Aside from that, you can also switch to WiFi and it won’t cost you a thing. Most smartphone contracts include some kind of data plan.

  28. raggedy11 says:

    One of the best ways to get readers to try e-readers is to be willing to show yours to them. I was in the doctor’s office and a woman saw that I was curious and took the time to show me her Kindle and what she liked about it. For me there are two great features to KSO … the price is lower. $114 I could afford. But the e-ink technology is not something you can explain to people they have to see it. I started with the Kindle PC app but it was very hard on my eyes. The Kindle seems to have a very light grey background and it really does like like a typed page to me. I know people who say they “could” read on their phones, but definitely use their kindles for most reading.
    Maybe it’s my imagination but I think I read faster on the Kindle.

  29. I have two ebooks coming out, one with color photos this week and a novel with just text at the end of July. The color photos look much better on a color ereader, but my family and friends don’t own them — if they own anything, it’s a Kindle. I’ve given them the links to free Barnes & Noble Nook apps for their computers and phones and hope they can figure it out. People don’t realize they can download free apps for both computers and phones. I think short books will have more success on a phone.

  30. My iPod Touch has the Kindle app, and iBooks. Flipped horizontally it’s perfectly acceptable as an eReader. In fact, I dump first draft ePubs to iBooks for the first read through. Amazing the things you catch when in a different environment.

    The reading experience is not a pain at all. (And I have fifty-year old eyes.)

  31. Great article! I actually use my smartphone as an e-reader all of the time. I always have it with me, so when I am waiting on the kids -at one of their activities – I use the free time to catch up on a few chapters of my latest read. I use the Kindle app for my android phone and I love it.

    • Thanks Stephanie. Anything that gives you more reading time gets my vote. It’s my birthday next month, and if anyone out there wants to give me a free smartphone, e-reader, or tablet I promise a tidal wave of good vibes in return.

  32. interesting. I’m in Asia – that too, in a country with no Kindle-ness, and I can testify that you’re absolutely spot on with this. There are a few Ipads floating around here, but such ereaders are eclipsed by a LOT of i-phones! Every other week (if not more frequently), someone I know seems to be getting their hands on an Iphone…. And the thing is, my friends who have Iphones really don’t mind reading at least the samples of ebooks on them. They carry the phones around all the time. Why wouldn’t they read ebook samples? After all, they use them to interact on their FB pages, blogs, etc etc etc… sampling isn’t that different.

    Hmmmm, well, I don’t think they’d read the full book on the phone, but sampling/reading reviews of the book… that should help get an author’s profile up out there… which is always good.

    Yeesh, Amazon, what are you doing denying so much of the world your ebooks? I really, really want a Kindle right now… and without any extra charges for whatever I might download on its hypothetical self… this is surely torture for bookworms like me…:)

  33. josephine wade says:

    I realize that I’m adding this late to the conversation, but I thought I’d put it here for anyone ‘catching up’ .

    I was just looking at my updates over at Goodreads and seeing what my friends and people I follow are doing and it occurred to me how few of them have ereaders which is a shock since they read a lot. Then I thought a good way to promote smart phone reading and ereaders is to simply mention it in any review that you give. Nothing ‘in your face’ just a simple statement near the beginning that ‘I downloaded this book to my ereader and smartphone and read it during my lunch break and at home in the evening….’. Or something simple like that. I think the more people see this as normal the easier it will be for them to transition into a mindset to try it.

    Anyway, that was my idea.

  34. Martin Lake says:

    I aimed a collection of flash fiction called Nuggets at phone users. The stories are short and to the point. However, I neglected to mention that they would suit phones on the cover or on the book description. I think I’ll do this, following your post.

    I will also alert people to the possiblity of reading books on any text I send.

    Martin Lake

  35. Martin Lake says:

    I’ve just had another thought. Some people stream their computers through their television sets. Does anyone have any experience of reading books on their TV?

  36. Randirogue says:

    First, let me admit that when I’m reading, I’m not always the best judge of time. That said… I believe I have to look for an outlet after about 2-3 constant hours of reading on my phone. That time might be tainted by starting without a full battery. It could also be that I was conveniently lying to myself and saying that I only let myself indulge for the last 2-3 hours when it may have been more like 4 or even more. But, even then… a few hours on such a convenient device? That’s not bad. Even with the occasional odd positioning due to the charger cord’s reach, I will suck it up because I just don’t want to stop.

    I highly recommend it. I’m glad you put a reminder like this out there. 😀

  37. I am almost half a century old and my esyesight is not as good as it used to be. And I own two e-ink devices, a Kindle 3 3G and a Cybook Opus. Yet I love smartphone reading. My Android smartphone has actually been part of my ereading habits since day 1. I read a few full length fiction and nonfiction ebooks with just the smartphone, and routinely use both the smartphone and the Kindle for most Kindle/Mobi titles.

    Smartphone reading has a couple of killer features: portability and synchronization with e-ink devices like Kindle (I guess Nook provides similar functionality). Synchronization looks like magic, trying it for the first time will make you grin. With hindsight, getting a 3G Kindle was a wise and effective decision for easier synchronization.

    Reading on a small screen seems unpleasant when compared to traditional paper books or e-ink reading sessions which tend to be long, from a few tens of minutes to a few hours. But smartphone reading is a different experience, and, for typical short mobile reading sessions, reduced screen size and limited legibility are not an issue.

    It may be little known that the Kindle for smartphones app lets you zoom images. Long tap the image, tap “Zoom” and use pinch & zoom or the “+” and “-” buttons depending on your mobile operating system. This is actually better than a Kindle device, which only lets you zoom images to fit the screen.

    As for the less comfortable page turning commands, be sure to get a page turner book that hooks you🙂

    How to reach smartphone owners? You may create a smartphone reading resource page. Such a page may include:

    * mobile reading testimonials or blurgs from other writers or readers
    * tips
    * links for downloading the most popular ereading apps
    * screenshots of aesthetically and typographically pleasing parts of your books (title pages, chapter starts, covers, illustrations, bullet lists, etc.) taken with smartphones (ask your readers)

    Here is a colletion of tips, some of which have already been mentioned here:

    * give it a try, you don’t have much to lose and the potential rewards are great
    * keep reading sessions short, from a few minutes to a quarter of an hour
    * pause at least 5 minutes between consecutive sessions
    * create a home screen shortcut or launcher icon to start the ereading app with a single tap
    * adjust the font size
    * change the page background color to reduce glare, e.g. set it to sepia
    * adjust the eyes-screen distance
    * try keeping the smartphone with one hand, alternatively one and the other, or both, and see what works for you
    * if you use synchronization, read in a place with good 3G or Wi-Fi coverage
    * if you read in busy places, pick a quiet corner not along the walking flow so that you don’t have to continually move to make room
    * sit whenever possible

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