The UK’s Daily Mail surveyed 1,863 UK readers on their e-book reading habits and determined that 34% of the readers surveyed admitted to using e-readers to conceal that they were reading erotic literature, 57% to hide reading children’s books such as Harry Potter, and 26% to hide their science fiction habit. (Science fiction is the Rodney Dangerfield of literary genres—it gets no respect, sometimes even from its own fans.)

All in all, counting overlap in categories, 58% of the readers admitted using the device to “hide” reading something they wouldn’t want others to see them with. So much for lack of cover being a disadvantage!

Something else interesting about the survey was just how many of the e-books people had on their readers that they had never read. 55% of those surveyed had read fewer than a third of the e-books on their shelves. 10% admitted they’d never read any of them.

Wonder why that is? I do know I’ve gotten a lot of e-books in Baen bundles that I snagged for the sake of one or two titles I wanted. I suppose people who habitually grab freebies from online stores (or less legitimate sources) because “they’re free” could account for them as well.

(Found via E-Reader Info.)


  1. “55% of those surveyed had read fewer than a third of the e-books on their shelves.”

    Well I have about 420 titles on my eReader, and am not near a third way through … so “55% of those surveyed had read fewer than a third of the e-books on their shelves” what exactly does that tell us about anything ? ….

  2. Most of what the Daily Mail writes is made up anyway. It has a terrible reputation for the quality of its stories focusing on sensationalism. Never mind they create another story a few days later with a opposite view.

    Take anything from this publication with a large pinch of salt.

  3. I don’t know why it is surprising that 55% of respondents have read fewer than 1/3 of the e-books (“on their shelves”? I am guessing on the device – or on their account? not sure exactly what was meant here).

    If they are talking about on the device, many people delete books off the device once they have read them, so the majority of the books on the device are books they haven’t gotten to yet.

    But even if they are referring to 1/3 the total number of e-books purchased, I can still see this easily. I monitor the price drop thread on Amazon’s forums and snag up good deals when they come up on books that interest me. I also check the Daily Deal every day and the Monthly Deals and pick up anything interesting when they are discounted. I throw them into my TBR pile, which is constantly growing, and I get to them when I get to them – usually they are purchased because they are a good deal today not because I want to read that particular book today. That pile generally grows faster than I can read them and remove them. Or, they are just reasonably priced in general and I want to purchase now so I don’t forget about it.

    Very few books do I buy and then read instantly. Those are only the “must haves.” Those are the books that the agency 6 charges a premium for and I won’t buy them until I am ready to read them. They will still be available when/if I am ready for them at the same or a cheaper price, so there is no need to buy them until then.

    And then there are the freebies. I don’t usually go for freebies except for public domain classics. But I put them on my reader whenever I find anything that I am pretty sure I want to read someday, just so I don’t forget about it later. So free classics also fill up my device in my TBR pile waiting for me to get to them.

    I would only be surprised by this statistic if 1/3 of the unread books in the account were agency books sold at full price.

    And regarding concealing what you are reading – I don’t get that. I understand wanting to conceal erotica from certain people (family, boss, children), but who cares if you read Harry Potter or science fiction? Why be ashamed of that?

  4. What I don’t understand is just how reading SF or Fantasy or Children’s
    Fantasy can still be characterized as shameful, given the box-office
    recordholders …

    Current IMDB All-time top ten:

    Avatar (SF)
    Titanic (???)
    The Dark Knight (Comics)
    The Avengers (Comics)
    Star Wars: A New Hope (SF)
    Shrek 2 (Fantasy)
    E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (SF)
    Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (SF)
    Pirates of the Carribean (Fantasy)
    Toy Story 3 (Children’s Fantasy)

    The only one that would _not_ be seen as “shameful” by the criteria of the
    writers of that article would probably be “Titanic”.

    As the saying goes: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what
    you think it means.

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