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How reading has changed over the years

Updated on January 29, 2016

For years, the most conventional way for people to read a wide array of literature was to either buy the books, or to head to the library. This was the trend that continued on for many years, and it still exists today, although the use of libraries is sadly on the decline.

In recent years though, technology (as is always the case) has changed not only how we live our day to day lives, but also how we read a vast array of reading materials, be it books, graphic novels, journals etc.

A juggernaut enters the arena

This massive change in reading habits can actually be attributed to the creation of the worlds most successful online book store- Amazon. This company was initially set up in a garage with a solitary computer and a less than impressive internet connection. However despite this, Amazon thrived to the extent that it quickly became the most lucrative and successful online book shop ever.

Over time Amazon then, as I’m sure you know, has turned itself into a massive online retailer that sells everything from books to breakfast cereal. The interesting part though is how it changed the reading landscape. It most certainly let people get books at a cheaper price than the competitors at the time (and it’s still actually like that) which allowed readers to expand their horizons and branch out into different genres. With the books being able to be delivered to their door step or place of work, the added convenience saw a big surge of book sales happening online.

This helped pave the way for an entire generation of new readers, which handily came at the same time of the Harry Potter craze. In fact, Amazon themselves managed to secure the rights to the limited edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard of which JK Rowling made 6 copies of the original book. The proceeds of the book then went to a children’s charity.

Technology improves and brings an old friend to the future

The way things really changed for readers though was the release of a seemingly irrelevant device; the Kindle. First released in 2007, the Kindle was an instant success despite it only being sold in the USA with it selling out in just under six hours. What made it revolutionary was the fact that an entire library could be carried out in a persons bag in a small slab of plastic with a screen attached. For readers all over the world, this was a dream come true.

Of course, Amazon knew that selling the Kindle could in the long run hamper its sales of physical books so to that end they decided upon a proprietary format and publish the books online dubbed the ‘Amazon Kindle Store’. By going for this move, they were able to prevent other retailers such as Barnes and Noble coming up with a digital version of a book that would work on the Kindle, thereby eating into Amazons pockets.

Even the way that the books where delivered was revolutionary. With the advent of high speed internet, a user could buy the book through their computer and via their WiFi connection; they were able to receive the book that they had ordered directly onto their Kindle, just like the same way you receive an email.

Over time, Amazon has released various new Kindles to the masses with the features being improved on time after time. In a further effort to increase the Kindle stronghold, they even released their own tablet dubbed the Kindle Fire. This has been a runaway success and much like the original Kindle, it sold it extremely quickly after going on sale. With the third generation of Kindles, Amazon have been quoted to say that for the first time ever, digital copies were outselling the physical variants. This is most likely due to the fact that it is not only more convenient to have a wide library in such a small space compared to having a physical collection of books.

For students especially, the advent of digital books has allowed them to have a massive collection of text books which are not only cheaper, but if they’re in student accommodation, it’s allowing them to get as many as they want without having to worry about the aforementioned space issue.

However, it hasn’t just been Amazon that has jumped onto this bandwagon. Apple have also been quick to embrace the digital age as will be discussed in a soon to be published hub.

The take home message

As it stands, we’ve come a long way in the last ten years when we look at the ways in which we read. It’s not unfair to say that a major factor on this is the speed of the internet connections we now have.

However technology as a whole has been a massive help in that the improved rechargeable batteries that are now available along with the better screens that we have on mobile devices that compel us to read a book digitally.

Amazon aren’t the only people to sell digital books, but they’ve certainly done the best job at marketing them and therefore selling them. There will never be an end to printed books although there will also always be a digital alternative available.


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