Popular opinion prior to the release of the Kindle Fire was that the iPad, Smartphones, and Android tablets were not ideal reading devices. Serious readers chose dedicated eReaders—E-Ink (black & white) devices like Kindle, Nook and Kobo. Color didn't/doesn't matter for these applications, or so we thought.
We always knew that some books were better viewed on a color device—children's books and travel books come to mind—but surveys are now reporting that color tablets are taking market share from dedicated reading devices.
What does this mean for publishers? Three things:
1. A color tablet can detract from immersive reading. These multi-function computers can play games, surf the web, play music, play videos and be used to create and edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets. That is quite a long list of reading distractions. Read what Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker Market Research said after reviewing their February 2012 survey results:
“Tablets will adversely affect the e-book business in that the tablet is a multifunction device and will therefore draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device.”
The competition for an author's books is time, not other books.
2. Maybe they have your book but they are not engaged with it. Free or cheap books encourage collecting and grazing. No one feels guilt for not finishing a book when they get the book free or for just a couple dollars. Readers know they can fill their time with an app or website just as easily as reading an eBook.
It is more important than ever to hook your reader early in the story. For non-fiction this might mean publishing a shorter book, or perhaps including more useful resources and links to your website.
Engagement and relevance are the keys because readers give you only so much time.
3. A memorable cover is now as important post-sale as it was in getting the book discovered. Until color devices came along many eBook publishers were treating the cover as an afterthought or worse yet, ignoring it altogether. The “shelf” on the E-Ink screen is simply a list of books.
But a color device displays the book, cover facing out. Covers are like icons that serve as memory-joggers to bring the reader back to the material. They often remind the reader why they bought the book in the first place.
Color tablets have made great covers cool again.
I got my Fire in December of 2011. At first I continued to do long-form reading on my Kindle 2 because it is lighter and easier to read. But the more I used the tablet for other tasks the more I began to read on it. Now I use the Kindle 2 only when I am concerned about battery life, reading in sunlight, or reading in my Jacuzzi.
I also discovered I had a lot more books on my bookshelf than I realized.
Do you prefer a color tablet or a dedicated eReader like a Kindle?
- The 2020 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print
- Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know
- How Much to Charge When Pricing a Self-Published Book to Sell on Amazon
- Amazon Book Review Policy Demystified for Authors
- Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?