A newspaper article today claims a school district library project to interest students in reading books by providing them with Kindles has been very successful. The librarians say that the devices have been directly responsible for increasing the number of minutes students have spent reading and also the number of books that have been read. The library has bought 30 Kindles and are using them with students in Kindle Clubs. Students estimate that they have read 30% more books over the last year.
Participants in the official Kindle forum (adult readers) have been making similar claims.
Here are some of the things that people at the official kindle forum are mentioning -
- They are reading more books than they used to.
- They’re also reading books that earlier they wouldn’t.
- A tendency to buy too many books.
- A tendency to hoard books.
- Downloading and reading a free book and then reading the other books from that author.
There seem to have been three main changes in reading patterns -
- The number of books read in main genres of interest seems to have gone up.
- Reading has made its way back to being a top 2 leisure activity for a significant number of kindle owners. For a lot of the others it was always #1 or #2.
- People are beginning to explore other genres and are reading lots of books that they wouldn’t have without the Kindle Store.
Earlier this year a report revealed that the availability of free e-books was having an unexpected impact on the sales of print books. A growing number of authors and publishers freely distribute their books electronically to increase the visibility of their work. These books, for both academic and general audiences, cover a wide variety of genres, including technology, law, fantasy, and science fiction. Some authors claim that free digital distribution has increased the impact of their work and their reputations as authors.
A pilot study, admittedly with a very small cohort, recently aimed to consider the e-book reading experiences of young children and their families, with currently available portable e-reader devices: Amazon Kindle, Nintendo DS-lite and Apple iPod Touch. Among other factors, there were indications that the one reluctant young reader (a boy aged eight years) was inspired to read by the Kindle.
Yet another article claims :"Ebooks have already proved particularly successful with low-ability and reluctant readers. Not only do they reflect the young learner’s world more appropriately than paper books but children still find technology ‘cool’. Therefore, reading on personal EDAs or laptops individually or together on a whiteboard makes those who are reluctant more interested, particularly when they can click through to relevant websites listed in bibliographies and discover more about a topic for themselves."
Lotta Larson, a Kansas-State assistant professor of elementary education, is finding that electronic readers allow children to interact with texts in ways they don't interact with the printed word. In particular she cites the role of features that enable the reader to make the text audible, increase or decrease font size and let readers make notes about the book.
You'll have noticed that many of these articles are about the Kindle but I don't think that matters. That is simply because the Kindle has been around longer, long enough for teachers and parents to make observations. The evidence linked to e-readers in general will come.
Someone at the conference I was speaking at last week asked about whether the e-book would inhibit those in her class who were already avid readers (I think she was really asking why the evidence appears to have such a focus on the reluctant or slow reader). I responded with the anecdotal evidence I've seen about avid readers consuming more books, bumping the print text size up a little to facilitate faster reading, and using tools like the note taking tool and the dictionary/thesaurus.