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Old 07-21-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Poll: 3 out of 4 Americans prefer paper books

So it's not just the British but also the majority of Americans who prefer paper books over e-books. At least if you're inclined to believe the poll done by Rasmussen Reports.

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A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 75% of American Adults would rather read a book in a traditional print format than on an electronic book-reading device like a Kindle. Fifteen percent (15%) prefer reading on an electronic device. Ten percent (10%) are undecided.
You find the original questions asked in the poll over here.

[via Slashdot]

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Old 07-21-2013, 12:43 PM   #2
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Alex, you seem to be posting a lot of articles about paper books. Is there something you want to tell us?
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:58 PM   #3
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the design of the survey is questionably for reaching this conclusion. someone that has not experienced an ebook would be unlikely to prefer it; market saturation therefore influences the poll. maybe they accounted for that but without the crosstabs, one can't know. The vast majority of time I prefer e. But sometimes dead trees comfort me; i'm dark that way.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
the design of the survey is questionably for reaching this conclusion. someone that has not experienced an ebook would be unlikely to prefer it; market saturation therefore influences the poll. maybe they accounted for that but without the crosstabs, one can't know. The vast majority of time I prefer e. But sometimes dead trees comfort me; i'm dark that way.
I don't think your points invalidate the poll: a lot of people may prefer paper books only because they haven't used e-book readers...but as they actually do prefer paper books, the poll is completely accurate.

The numbers aren't surprising, really; paper books still outsell e-books by a substantial margin.

Although it would be interesting if the poll included how many and what kind of books the person read; I suspect the numbers who prefer e-books are higher in people who mostly fiction and who read 10+ books per year.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:30 PM   #5
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Note that I did not say that my points invalidated the poll, only that the stated conclusion was questionable given the questions; the crosstabs may tell a more complete story, but alas they are unavailable. The stated conclusion implies an experience that may or may not exist. Which is to say, if I tell you I prefer this over that, the implication is that I have experienced both this and that.

Last edited by Rob Lister; 07-21-2013 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
the design of the survey is questionably for reaching this conclusion. someone that has not experienced an ebook would be unlikely to prefer it; market saturation therefore influences the poll. maybe they accounted for that but without the crosstabs, one can't know. The vast majority of time I prefer e. But sometimes dead trees comfort me; i'm dark that way.
No kidding. They never even asked if the responder had ever read an e-book, let alone owned an e-reader. I'd guess that roughly 50% of real readers (people who read more than a book a month) have still not read a book on an e-reader.

With a poll structured like that, I am actually surprised that 25% prefer e-books. No doubt some publisher is going to take that as proof that the e-market is a wasted investment...
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:56 PM   #7
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Although it would be interesting if the poll included how many and what kind of books the person read; I suspect the numbers who prefer e-books are higher in people who mostly fiction and who read 10+ books per year.
Actually, I'm not sure that first is true. I've bought all my reference books in electronic formats for over ten years, whereas I only got hooked on an e-reader last year.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:01 PM   #8
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I am not surprised. ebooks are more practical, but not necessarily better. I love the formatting and page setup of a paper book. ebooks still don't get close to that.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auspex View Post
Actually, I'm not sure that first is true. I've bought all my reference books in electronic formats for over ten years, whereas I only got hooked on an e-reader last year.
I'm kind of with Andrew here. All of my reference material comes from the internet and is viewed via computer, but I'll be damned if I'll try to use an e-reader for that kind of task. Damned if I'll use paper anymore either, while we're gedunkin'
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 75% of American Adults would rather read a book in a traditional print format than on an electronic book-reading device like a Kindle. Fifteen percent (15%) prefer reading on an electronic device. Ten percent (10%) are undecided.
Wouldn't that imply that 75% of American adults read books (and thus have a valid opinion on the subject)?
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:14 PM   #11
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No kidding. They never even asked if the responder had ever read an e-book, let alone owned an e-reader. I'd guess that roughly 50% of real readers (people who read more than a book a month) have still not read a book on an e-reader.

With a poll structured like that, I am actually surprised that 25% prefer e-books. No doubt some publisher is going to take that as proof that the e-market is a wasted investment...
Their problem if they do.
(shrug)
For one thing, those numbers (if you believe them) are actually showing the strength of the ebook market. What they are claiming is that 75% of the total population, prefers paper. Fine. That includes the portion of the population that doesn't *buy* books at all and the portion that only buys one book a year. Together, that makes up well over half the population.
The poll is actually telling that, of the people *buying* more than one book a year, at least a third strongly prefers ebooks and another 20% is open to the tech.

There is a difference between basing the "ebook approval rating" on the total population and basing it on likely book buyers. If you are looking to make investment grade estimates of ebook market potential, you want your numbers based on likely buyers.

Now, if you're just looking to convince yourself ebooks are a fad then including non-participants will make you feel better... for now.

Personally, I would put more stake on the reports from the BPHs that 20-25% of their sales, in dollars, comes from ebooks. Because that is people voting their wallets, not their mouth.
(And since average ebook prices are lower than print, 25% is the just lower bound of ebook market penetration.)

Last edited by fjtorres; 07-21-2013 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:28 PM   #12
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The vast majority of time I prefer e.
Yes same with me right now. But you need to understand that you're a very small minority with this approach. Digital reading is not the future, it's not even avant-garde. It's something most people don't care about, it's a cheap and convenient way to consume text files or to build up a virtual library. That's the reason why I like it just as I like some other things.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:35 PM   #13
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... Digital reading is not the future, it's not even avant-garde....
I don't believe that. Unless some newer technology supersedes it, I think it is indeed the near future, given it's current penetration. That's not to suggest paper will go away completely nor that paper isn't currently a better medium for some applications.

If you have some supporting evidence or logic, I'll consider it.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:39 PM   #14
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I agree that market saturation factors into the results. I also wonder if the poll being conducted by telephone skews the results toward more traditional answers, even though they do claim a 95% level of confidence in the results. I wonder if older (and less likely to like new technology) people would be the more likely type of person to participate in a survey like this. I also wonder what results a survey conducted through the internet or in-person on the street would bring.

Also, the article leaves many things unclear when you compare it to the questions asked. For the final numbers, did they include the preferences of everyone who answered the survey regardless of how many books they said they read on question 1 (even if they hadn't read a book in the past year)?

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No kidding. They never even asked if the responder had ever read an e-book, let alone owned an e-reader. I'd guess that roughly 50% of real readers (people who read more than a book a month) have still not read a book on an e-reader.

With a poll structured like that, I am actually surprised that 25% prefer e-books. No doubt some publisher is going to take that as proof that the e-market is a wasted investment...
Only 15% preferred ebooks; 10% were undecided.
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Old 07-21-2013, 03:40 PM   #15
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Alex, you seem to be posting a lot of articles about paper books. Is there something you want to tell us?
Heh. I am just the messenger.
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