The changing pages of the eBook and eReader12/10/2012 09:45 by Leanna Appleby
The first eReaders were released in 1998: NuroMedia launched the Rocket and SoftBook released the Softbook reader. The somewhat basic design allowed the user to read an eBook in its simplest form – namely black text on a light background. Both readers also included a built-in dictionary. Holding approximately 10 books, the devices were the same size as the popular paper-back format, but much thicker than subsequent eReaders and with minimal functionality. 
14 years on, eBooks and other devices that support eReaders have significantly evolved and are changing the way we consume books.
With the abundance of devices, from the Amazon Kindle to the Tablet PC, the eBook is now available in many formats. The volume and range of devices have made eBooks more accessible and consequently, reading habits have not only changed but we are reading more. Questions we asked in our omnibus survey support this, revealing 29% of all online adults believe their reading has increased in the previous 18 months, and will continue to increase in the next 18 months.
In addition to reading more, the eBook has also changed where and how people read. According to results from our omnibus, the eBook is read in a greater variety of places compared to the traditional hardback or paperback book (see chart below). This is unsurprising as the eBook and its supporting devices have made it easier for people to read a book no matter where they are, be it commuting to work, visiting friends or family members or just killing time. In addition, the eReader provides access to a whole library of books at the click of a button. As such, the availability of a variety of reading materials isn’t dependent on remembering to carrying hardbacks or paperbacks at all times.
Another interesting behavioural shift is that of the demographics of book readers and eBook readers. The typical eBook reader is now under 50, usually aged 18-49. According to the results from our omnibus, those aged 16-24 (+30%) and 25-34 (+40%) scored the highest when asked whether their reading habits had increased in the past 18 months.
Recent results from Amazon support these trends, demonstrating the popularity of the eBook. Sales of Kindle eBooks have overtaken sales of printed books, adding further weight to the eBook success story. And without doubt, success breeds innovation. Initially, the basic eBook had limited interactivity largely limited to flipping a page, increasing the font size and highlighting words to look up in the built-in dictionary. Today, enhanced eBooks enable you to add in videos, audio and further interactivity. For example, Apple recently released its iBook Author which allows the user to create iBook text books, cook books, history books among others. 
No doubt, the eBook and the eReader will continue to evolve, changing the way consumers read and increasing consumer expections. Brands in the eBook space will have to consider and manage these expectations, and develop their products and services accordingly. The eBook market is in its prime and brands have an exciting opportunity to meet consumers’ growing and evolving needs.
 The GfK omnibus survey covered 1000 interviews with eBook readers, UK only
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