The Rise of Mobile-Reading and its Implications for Authors

The Rise of Mobile-Reading and its Implications for Authors

Mobile phones have come a long way since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007 followed by the first Android smartphone in 2008. Also, around the same time in 2008, Amazon introduced its first Kindle E-reader. Ebooks became the next big thing and book lovers were quickly switching over to this new-age reading experience.

Over this decade long journey, there has been a rapid and progressive growth in both these technologies. So much so that now, they are merged together as one.  

Mobile Reading

Mobile reading is not limited to reading texts, messages or emails. UNESCO has recently reported through a survey of over 5000 people that almost 62% of individuals are reading more books and stories on their mobile phones.

It’s a positive sign for publishers as this survey was done in the developing countries of South Asia and Africa where technological development is still lagging behind as compared to the USA.

A survey by Goodreads back in 2013 revealed that 37% of their users read books on their mobile phones. The numbers have gone up over the last four years as the mobile phones have improved their overall user experience with increased screen sizes and better screen resolutions for easy reading.
This has a major implication on authors and publishers to make their books easily accessible and readable on mobile devices.     

Why Mobiles?
A survey by Pew research found that 73% Americans have read a book in 2016. Although print books still continue to dominate over Ebooks, in the last five years there has been a significant increase in the number of readers who read on smartphones and tablets.

The primary reason for this increase is the users’ preference to carry their favorite books in their pockets along with their work and social life. An average American spends at least 100 minutes on smartphones everyday.

Thanks to high performing mobile phones, multitasking has gone to the next level. People don’t read a book at a stretch or even a few pages continuously. They mostly read while waiting or commuting and even when they are reading at home, they tend to switch between other activities like checking emails, messaging, clicking selfies, reading the news, etc.

Another reason for reading on the mobile is the internet. A reader can quickly find the appropriate meaning of any confusing word or phrase while reading a book and even communicate with experts on reading forums.

New Reading Pattern

Due to the vast amount of content available on the internet, users have become very picky about what they read. Content that is concise is consumed more and reading sessions have shortened due to more distractions on the screen.  

The average attention span has gone down and the users want quick answers and easy fixes for their questions. This has given way to the ‘F Pattern’ of reading which is called the eye scanning pattern.

The users first read the top lines in a horizontal path to know what’s in it for them. As they read further going down, they follow a vertical path looking for any points of interest that would be helpful for reading further. A big block of text in the middle or in the beginning is usually a buzzkill. Many users have adapted this pattern even while reading their books.

Interesting Numbers
Mobile reading as we know today has expanded rapidly and there are more eBooks being sold every year. Almost 92% of US adults own a smartphone today and around 45% have a tablet. In fact, to satisfy the demands of both phone and tablet lovers, the manufacturers have combined both their features and introduced the ‘Phablet’
The Pew research statistics show that the ebook sales have gone up to 7.59 billion US dollars in 2016 as compared to 2.31 billion US Dollars in 2011. What’s more surprising here is that the number of ebook readers (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.) that touched their peak sales in 2011 at 23.2 billion US dollars have fallen rapidly to 7.1 billion US dollars in 2016.

The dipping e-reader sales only implies that book lovers are more comfortable reading on their phones and tablets. Ereaders like Kindle have managed to adapt to this changing trend by developing the Kindle App that has over 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store.      

Authors and Publishers
Mobile reading is not completely new to authors and publishers as they have been selling thousands of copies online. Today, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Smashwords have made this easy for authors to display and promote their work on top websites.

More and more readers are downloading books on their mobile phones. There are websites like Bartleby that offer a wide array of free books that users can read on their phones. For new authors, there’s another emerging ‘mobile only’ publishing platform, Juggernaut, that’s making it easy for authors to reach and connect with their targeted mobile audience.

Online publishing has become easier than ever and more books are being published every year. Apart from creating interesting, unique stories for the new-age reader, authors and publishers now need to focus primarily on readability, accessibility, and better user experience.

The Rise of Mobile-Reading and its Implications for Authors
Ethan Miller is a private ESL tutor and apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write and holds a degree in creative writing. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Miller loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. Follow Ethan's Blog.


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