Books or e-Books: How Do You Read?

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

AJN iPad app display

I just finished reading a report, released earlier this month from the Pew Research Center, on the rise of e-reading—whether on e-book readers like Kindles and Nooks; tablet devices like iPads; cell phones; or computers. The report details the results of surveys of nearly 3,000 adults ages 16 years and older conducted in December, 2011, and then again in February, 2012, about their reading habits.

Prior to the 2011 holiday season, approximately 17% of adults had read an e-book in the previous year, but in the post-holiday survey early the next year, following holiday gift giving, that number had jumped to 21%. While printed books still dominate (in December, 2011, 72% of Americans reported that they had read a printed book in the past 12 months), e-reading is growing more popular. And it seems that those who read e-books are spending more time reading “since the advent of e-content”: in particular, 41% of tablet owners and 35% of e-reading device owners say they are reading more now.

Format follows function. One question asked in the December 2011 survey was which format was better for a variety of reading situations. E-books scored slightly higher than print books for reading in bed (45% vs 43%), but considerably higher for reading while traveling or commuting (73% vs 19%), availability of broad selection of content (53% vs 35%), and “being able to get a book quickly” (83% vs 13%). I concur on all points. (Reading with a child and sharing books with others were notable exceptions, with traditional print books still highly favored for these activities.)

I wasn’t especially keen on getting an e-reading device, but my family gave me one as a gift. It proved itself when snowstorms left me stranded in Puerto Rico while I was on a winter vacation (see my blog post). The hotel’s paperback supply quickly became depleted. However, with my trusty Kindle, I just downloaded more reading material.

I love the portability of having scores of books at my disposal—and the option to get just about anything else I want, from newspapers to journals. Now, I take my iPad, which has a Kindle app that allows me to access books I downloaded on that device; it’s also backlit, which means I don’t have to keep a light on if I read in bed. I only take my Kindle if I plan to read on a beach, since it’s not backlit and doesn’t have any glare.

AJN now has an iPad app and many journals are developing them as well (we hope to eventually have applications to fit other e-reading devices too). I’m wondering—are many of you, our readers, reading e-books? Are you using the iPad, or do you prefer computers (used by a surprisingly high percentage of survey respondents), Kindles, Nooks, or other devices? We’d love to hear how you’re reading.

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2016-11-21T13:10:15+00:00 April 24th, 2012|Nursing|3 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Peggy April 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I have a Kindle which I love for traveling and I read most books on it. I still am a sucker for a printed magazine though and will purchase one for flights so I have something to do while all electronics have to be off.

  2. Marianna Crane April 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I read books on on my I-Pad using both I-books and kindle. And I love to read in bed using the I-Pad, which doesn’t affect my sleeping husband.

    I also read the New York Times on my I-Pad.

  3. Sheila Englebardt April 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Have been reading on a Kindle since it came out…love it – both the easy access to free books and the availability of paid books and journals. Also read using my iPad but hate using it outdoors (even on my front porch, the glare is terrible) so only use if I need more light at night.

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