Reading Is Evolving – And That’s A Good Thing

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The publishing world is in an upheaval, Borders has filed for Chapter 11, and libraries are struggling to maintain their funding.  All true, but none of these facts are evidence that reading itself is on the decline.

It’s evolving, for sure.  But I hear a lot of false speculation that reading as an activity is doomed to plummet along with sales of the printed book.

To the contrary, here is my three-step argument that reading will thrive in the years to come:

  1. eReader ownership is growing at a meteoric rate, with 12% of adults claiming to own such a device, double that of just six months ago.  This trend is not going to stop anytime soon.
  2. eBook sales are skyrocketing, with Amazon now reporting that eBook sales actually outpace that of printed books.  Again, it’s hard to see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
  3. People read more once they convert to an eReader, as shown by two independent studies in this article, as well in this release by researcher Harris Interactive.

If these three statements are true, and it’s hard to find arguments against any one of them, it seems blindingly clear that reading has a solid future.  Publishers, printers, bookstores and libraries all have their challenges ahead of them.

But reading itself stands to prosper.

More Reading Is Always Better

We have a saying at GoneReading that more reading is always better, regardless of the content or format.  And the fact is that eReaders will play a dramatic role in increasing readership in every corner of the world.

The positive implications for the developing world are unprecedented.  Just as cell phone technology has leapfrogged landlines in the developing world, eReaders can leapfrog the printed book with stunning results.  Non-profits such as WorldReader are adapting and testing eReader technology to bring the magic of reading to places where the printed book has yet to arrive.

Lastly, there’s also a strong case to be made that eReaders are better for the environment than the printed book.

My Conclusion

No one loves the printed book more than myself; I’m fortunate enough to own hundreds of them, and I have yet to buy an eReader.

But our sentiments can’t stop technologies from evolving and improving.  Despite the pain these changes effect in the short run – and they are heart wrenching changes for many people in the industries mentioned above – the evolution of reading is good for the world.

Feel free to prove me right or wrong by commenting below!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little article, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO


  1. Posted June 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I just wanted to comment on your statement that “libraries are losing their funding.” In your post it looks as though you are using the fact that libraries are losing their funding as evidence that reading is evolving away from books. While I totally agree that your statement that reading is evolving is true, I would like to point out that while libraries are struggling for funding, they are not struggling for users or readers and there is no correlation between the library’s loss of funding and the evolution of reading. These two facts are mutually exclusive. While it might not be books in printed format, it is digital mediums that draw users in. Library use has actually increased to a large degree since 2001. During the recession library use has surged up by 25%.

    • Posted July 1, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink | Reply

      Great point. I keep hearing people say that they think libraries are losing their relevance. My response is “Go visit a library and then tell me it’s losing relevance…” Our local library is busier than ever. Somehow people automatically assume that the digital revolution renders libraries irrelevant and empty, when the real effect is the exact opposite. I hope I didn’t add to that confusion! Thanks for the comment and attention to detail. P.S. Just checked out your blog and subscribed!

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