William's home for discarded gems and concepts-in-progress.

Welcome to William Van Winkle's blog, home for everything from notes on his latest ebooks to leftovers from his articles in CPU, Tom's Hardware, Smart Computing, and other media outlets. Check out his author pages at Amazon and Smashwords!

Friday, May 27, 2011

In E-Reading, Nothing Beats True Love

In researching an article for PC Today this morning, I came across an OverDrive marketing sheet directed toward library purchasing agents. The document is a bit dated (2008), but even at that relatively early time (before the Kindle and iPad crazes, after all), the writing seems to have been on the virtual wall. OverDrive notes that "a statewide digital library's eBook collection turnover rate was nearly six times higher than the state's average print turnover rate. If you buy eBooks, patrons will download."

Presumably this means that patrons are consuming books more quickly in digital format than on paper -- a curious observation. Why would this be? I was on a plane recently, reading "The Big Short" on my NOOK Color. I know that most people believe LCD screens are more difficult to read on than paper, but having got nearly half-way through the book in two days -- an almost unprecedented event for me in recent years owing to my schedule -- I couldn't help but wonder if I was actually reading faster on the screen than I do on paper. I would love for someone to publish a study on the impact of various viewing devices (paper included) on reading speed and/or content retention.

As a writer, though, what really caught my eye in OverDrive's document was this:

"Overall, what’s popular in print is often successful in the eBook format. The 10 most-circulated OverDrive
eBook titles are often the same best sellers you see in The New York Times or on Amazon.com. However,
across all OverDrive libraries (and consistently over time), romance has been the most popular subject.
Romance readers consume many eBooks and return to their library’s ‘Virtual Branch’ again and again. The chart at the right illustrates the loyalty of romance eBook readers."

If these patrons were average top volume readers and not hand-selected specifically for their romance title borrowing, the implications are stunning. Those who read most read romance. Admittedly, romance novels may be quicker reads than the average non-romance, but this is still a prodigious consumption rate within a certain genre, and it makes a clear point: Even if you don't write romance, having strong romantic elements in your stories is imperative if you want to reach the broadest possible audience.

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