January is coming to a close and my reading goals (if not my writing goals) are on track, for the most part. As planned, I’ve read five books this month. (Though one of them wasn’t a writing craft book like I’d wanted it to be. I’m only 8 percent through Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go.)
When I was updating my reading accomplishments on Goodreads, it struck me:
I’ve read five books this year, but haven’t flipped a single page.
Of the five books I’ve read this month and the two I’m currently reading, 3 are audiobooks and 4 are eBooks.
In this article about Audible.com, the “world’s largest producer and seller of digital spoken-word entertainment,” I was struck by this statement:
“I’ve heard from friends and family that audiobooks are the only way they find time to read anymore,” said Hugh Howey, best-selling author of Wool (forthcoming in print from Simon & Schuster).
This, for me, is partly true. I spend a minimum of an hour a day driving the commute, and I usually spent somewhere more in the ballpark of an hour and a half and three hours in the car a day, depending on traffic and other activities I’m committed to. Audiobooks open up extra hours of reading time that otherwise would have been lost to mindless radio stations. I get more read a year because of the availability of audiobooks.
I love reading physical books. In fact, sometimes I prefer it. I read slower when reading paper and can savor passages more, can reflect on the excellence of the craft. I’m encouraged to reread sentences that struck me.
On Kindle, it’s about reading faster, flipping those digital pages and getting to the next chapter. With audiobooks, I actually double-time them, so the narrator talks at warp-speed and I can listen to twice as much book in half the amount of time.
I own two Kindles–a Fire and a normal one, both gifts–and I am constantly reading on them.
It’s easier to download five eBooks for free from my local library–while lounging on the couch in my pjs–than to spend another half an hour in the car driving to the library to get physical copies.
Also, no late fees, ever. When they expire–when my loan is up–they simply disappear off my Kindle. (This is a great thing because, as my boyfriend likes to tease me, I probably keep my library in business because of my regular late fees.)
Same for audiobooks. They’re so easy to download from my library’s website, and less clunky to travel with than an audiobook on a pack of CDs (also, you can’t listen to CDs at the gym. You need to listen to your iPod). This ease and preference probably could open into a broader discussion of brick-and-mortar bookstores chances in the Renaissance of online bookstores, but I’m not going to go there for now.
With January being a completely page-free month, I was wondering if this is normal for me now. Though I still go to book stores and the physical library and I still buy paper copies of books–will they soon be in the minority?
I’m interested to see how my reading habits develop over the next year, but without those statistics in existence yet, I thought I’d look at my past year in reading.
In 2012, I read 64 books. Of those, 28 were physical books, 22 were Kindle or Google Reader eBooks, and 14 were audiobooks.
Rounding up those percentages, that’s 44% paper books, 34% eBooks, and 22% audiobooks.
Honestly, these numbers surprised me. My memory has me stuck on the idea that I read more on Kindle than I did of physical books this year. Glad I keep track of it all on Goodreads, or else I’d be clinging to that misconception!
I wonder if the percentages will tip this year.
How do you prefer to read your books? Despite preferences, do you still read more eBooks than paper ones because of convenience?