I am very pleased to report the results of the survey conducted on January 5, 6, 7 and 8.
I want to express my gratitude to all respondents, twofold to those who forwarded it to relatives, friends, acquaintances and coworkers. If you are one of the latter, I would appreciate it if you also forward the results to them.
Without further ado:
1. About following the news on electronic devices:
58 percent had followed them. 42 per cent had not.
6.3 percent were under 40 years of age. 93.7 were over 40.
54.5 percent were females. 45.4 percent were males.
4. On having read one of my books:
38 percent had read one of my books. 62 percent had not.
5. On having read a book in an electronic device:
24.5 percent had. 68.2 percent had not. 7.3 percent didn’t respond.
6. Concerning how many would buy a book only available in an electronic format priced at 20% of hardcopy current prices:
37.2 percent would buy it. 55.5 percent would not. 7.3 percent didn’t respond.
7. About price:
17.3 percent would prefer to decide how much to pay.
12.7 percent consider a price between $1 and $ 5 fair.
0.9 percent considers a price between $6 and $9 fair.
2.7 percent consider a price over $9 fair.
10 percent chose a minimum price with the option to pay more.
34.5 percent said it should be priced as other e-books.
21.8 percent didn’t respond.
8. On whether it would be wise to try digital books on a computer or smartphone before buying an electronic reader.
60 percent said yes. 20.9 percent said no. 19.1 percent didn’t respond.
9. Regarding where they would read the e-book:
25.5 percent would print it and read it on paper.
27.3 percent on computer screens.
5.5 percent on smart phones.
32.7 percent on e-readers.
12.7 percent didn’t respond.
(Question number 9 admitted more than one choice, which is why the sum of percentages exceed 100 percent).
In four days 110 individuals took the survey.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
From Network Effects, an article in The Economist, December 19 issue, pages 142 to 144, I take the liberty of condensing a few paragraphs below.
“Some technologies produce dramatic upheavals.
“When in May 1844 Samuel Morse connected Washington, DC, and Baltimore with the electric telegraph, the status quo and business model that had served the newspaper industry for years was disrupted.
“This great revolution,” warned James Gordon Bennett, the editor of the New York Herald, would mean that some publications “must submit to destiny and go out of existence.”
“Instead, the newspapers themselves took control of delivering news over the wires with the formation of the Associated Press.
“[At present] there are predictions of the death of the newspaper; but it is not clear if that matters. For society what matters is that people should have access to news, not that it should be delivered by any particular medium; and for the consumer, the faster it travels the better.
“If paper editions die, that is not the same as the death of news.”
Now, I substitute a few words and add some from the last two paragraphs above. Bear with me:
There are predictions of the death of books on paper; but it is not clear if that matters. For society what matters is that people should have access to books, not that it should be delivered by any particular medium; and for readers, the faster they can reach books the better.
If books on paper die, that is not the same as the death of literature.
Predicting the outcome of the present revolution in the publishing industry at this point in time would be futile. But educated guesses are intellectually stimulating and quite amusing, so I’ll make ten assumptions and invite you to make an educated guess. I would really like to learn what you think.
My assumptions are:
- All literate people over fifteen learned to read and write using paper and a pencil or ball pen, so it is possible that millions feel special affection for the medium that taught them the world was something more than Mom, Dad, teachers, schoolmates and neighbors.
- In the distant future children probably will learn to read on screens and use certain electronic gadgets to write on the screen.
- If assumption number 2 turns out to be correct, the new generations will develop the same special affection that we feel for paper and pencil toward the screen and the writing device.
- Young people are more willing to try new gadgets and experiment than the elderly.
- Most (not all) seniors are unwilling to try new gadgets and experiment.
- For some individuals reading books is a very pleasurable and thought-provoking form of cultural entertainment. Others never read a book.
- Most middle-aged and older readers like to read printed paper.
- Young readers are not averse to reading regular books, but have been using technologies such as the Internet, the laptop, the smart phone, video games, etc. since childhood and are more willing to try reading literature on e-books.
- Back in the 1970s the expression “generation gap” became all the rage. It referred essentially to values, opinions and behavior concerning morals, sex, music, drugs and other social issues.
- Nowadays, in what regards literature and the particular medium that people use to read it, we may well be experiencing a transition period and a technological generation gap. Older, middle-aged and younger readers love literature, but their choice of the medium on which to read is evolving.
Educated guess: How will literature be read 50 years from now? Let me know.
Certain evening in October, 1957, several members of my family were standing on my grandparents’ terrace, anxiously looking north. The Cuban media had reported that on October 4 the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik, planet Earth’s first artificial satellite, and Cubans could see it cross the sky at a precise time that nightfall.
I was 17 years old. My grandfather, born November 1, 1881, was weeks shy of 77. Eventually we watched what looked like a big white star moving from east to west over the horizon.
Once it disappeared from view, Granddad heaved a deep sigh and shook his head. “The world is changing too fast for me,” he said.
Many years later I started feeling what he felt that evening in Havana.
Copyright @ 2010 by José Latour. This article is protected under the Canadian Copyright Act and other intellectual property laws throughout the world. Users are permitted to view it or download it for personal use only. Such permission does not constitute any authorization to further reproduce, distribute, publicly display or otherwise transmit it, in whole or in part, by any electronic or mechanical means. Requests for permission to reproduce, distribute, publicly display or transmit the article or part of it are to be made to the author, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.