Monday, April 8, 2013

Size does matter

OK, I just couldn’t help the double entendre.

A recent study on continued trends shows some interesting correlations between genre and what type of eReader the user is using. Thus, the title.

First, the number of people reading eBooks continues to increase. No surprise, but it is important to get that out of the way. This stuff matters if you are an author or a publisher.

Dedicated eBook readers tend to be the smaller, less powerful device. They are cheaper and focused on one thing: reading books.

Tablets are multifunction and the reader is simply an app on the tablet. They tend to be bigger (although a smart phone is fundamentally a micro tablet).

Finally, you still have the PC. Yes, quite a bit of reading still occurs on the PC.

Why should you care? Because the capabilities of each is different as is the type of reader.

Dedicated eReader users tend to buy general fiction, mystery, literary fiction, or romance. Computer readers tend to buy technical manuals and similar non-fiction. Phone users tend to read travel guides. Tablet users are the rest.

This matters because of the type of material presented and how you might expect it to look to the end reader. The travel guide writer and publisher needs to think about how to present key information on very small screens. But, with eBooks, you can add navigation. Easy navigation becomes important on a phone.

Technical manual writers, and other similar non fiction, can depend on a larger screen and more processing power. Sure, there will be someone who tries to read your book on a phone, but that will not be the “average” nor the trend.

Full fledged tablets will have fairly big screens, with higher resolution. Artwork and illustrated novels could work. So can cookbooks. Science Fiction and Fantasy will probably be read on a tablet.

This can matter even in the sense of the “free” partial book that you include as a publisher. If you know that the reader is on a tablet, you might not pitch the literary fiction novel there (say via iTunes).

Size/format/form factor/technology does matter and publishers and authors will need to think a little bit about which device they think their reader is reading from, because in on form or another, over 50% of your audience is on one of these devices.

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