eBooks should be more expensiveA just-published research study from Mintel, the London-headquartered consumer market research organization, demonstrates that ebooks are driving up reading levels in the UK. “One in four (26%) consumers who have bought an e-book in the past year say that they read more than they used to because e-books cost less than paperbacks, rising to as many as four in ten (38%) 16-24 year old-book owners,” states the Mintel preamble. Cost seems to be one of the key grounds, as “over a third (36%) of UK book buyers buy both e-books and print books and 42% of these say that they will always buy the cheapest version of the book no matter which format it is in.”

The report also cites a 12 percent rise in sales of ebooks by value during 2014, down on the 38 percent rise in 2013, providing further evidence that “the market is starting to stabilise once more,” also implied by the falling number of ereader owners, at 31 percent of the poll, down from 35 percent in April 2013.

However, it also reemphasizes the now-notorious male/female reading gap in the UK. “Whilst the vast majority (86%) of women have read a book in the past year, just three-quarters (74%) of men have done the same,” states Mintel. “Almost two thirds (63%) of women have purchased a fictional book in the last 12 months, compared to 48% of men.” Furthemore, “a third (34%) of Brits who have not purchased a book in the past year are simply not interested in reading books, rising to 42% of men who haven’t purchased a book.”

Samuel Gee, Senior Technology and Media Analyst at Mintel, said: “In order to solve the problem of men’s lower reading rates a cultural shift is necessary, with books specifically highlighted as a worthy pastime for young boys starting from primary school and continuing onwards into secondary education. This would need to be accomplished through idolised cultural icons or sporting heroes endorsing reading as a pastime, more fathers and male role models in the child’s life (including teachers) promoting reading, and more books that cater to traditional male-interest subjects in schools.” You get the feeling that this wouldn’t be a problem in Asia – or in any less crass and brutishly philistine Western country than the UK.


  1. It’d help to get more boys reading, if there was an ereader that fitted a young boy’s life style.

    1. Fits in a jean pocket

    2. Rugged and drop-proof

    3. Waterproof

    4. Buttons on the side rather than a touch screen

    5. Lighted screen for reading under the covers at night

    6. Powered by a replaceable or rechargeable AA or AAA battery (cheaper)

    7. Doesn’t bother with note, highlights or other distractions.

    I would have loved a gadget just like that as a kid and used it until it wore out.

    When I was about ten I was sitting in a old tire suspended from a tree about 20 feet in the air. Without a conscious thought, I suddenly dropped the book and grabbed the rope holding the tire. A second later, the rope broke where it wrapped around the tire and the tire fell away, leaving me hanging far up in the air.

    I can only assume something in my unconscious heard that rope begin to snap and told me what to do, sparing me some serious injury. The book—probably from the library—wasn’t harmed.

    Ah, but if it’d been Kindle or an iPod, the result might have been a costly shattered glass faceplate and angry parents. From the perspective of a boy, the typical Kindle reader might as well come in pink and covered with smiling hello kitties. It positively screams “Don’t take me outdoors. I am fragile.”

    Think too of those Kindle ads of a few years back where a woman with a Kindle epaper reader sneers a man struggling to read a tablet in the bright sun. Well, there could be something similar with a boy, but with him sneering at fragile tablets while he tosses his high in the air.

    And yes, there could also be a pocketable reader just for girls. At the risk of triggering a firestorm, it might follow principles like those in the classic Saturday Night Live skit, “Chess for Girls.”



    Those reading boys would grow up to be men that read.

    –Mike Perry

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