It’s official: Web users are reading less material in print.
According to the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future the number of Internet users who say that they spend less time reading offline printed materials rose from 19.3% in 2001 to 23.2% in 2006.
How about that?! I am sure that this news will have educators, Luddites and other naysayers gloating while newspaper, magazine and book publishers tremble.
The Annenberg School “surveys more than 2,000 individuals across the United States, each year contacting the same households to explore how online technology affects the lives of Internet users and non-users. It also examines how changing technology, such as the shift from Internet access by modem to broadband, affects behavior. “
This year’s portion on the changes in reading concludes with this statement: “A growing number of web users are seeking out that information on-line, frequently from the on-line versions of the same sources. Everything in our work strongly suggests that this trend will increase significantly.”
I see this as generally good news for eBooks. The newest eBooks readers accommodate newspaper and magazine subscriptions along with RSS feeds. Obviously they are banking on this trend as well.
As devices become more wired and sophisticated, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with reading almost anything electronic -- their computer, PDA, cell phone or eBook Reader. The “I hate reading on a screen” objection is beginning to fade away. Of course the clarity of the eInk screens doesn’t hurt!
Another interesting finding is that television viewing is actually up slightly. You can’t help but wonder what will happen as more TV programming is available online. Will viewers follow the same path as readers? But I digress.
The point is that reading is not dead or even dying, it is changing. Great news for innovators and very bad news for those who love the status quo.