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Offline: Myths about reading

Author: Rene Beekman Date: Fri, Mar 12 2010 8902 Views
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Nay-sayers and Luddites who have maintained for years that reading books off computer and other screens is not going to be a mainstream activity look set to be proven wrong, again.

At least, if data published on March 1 2010 by Mobclix about the number of book applications available in the Apple App Store is any indication.

According to Mobclix data, books now, for the first time, outnumber games in absolute numbers in Apple’s App Store.

Already in October 2009, market researchers Flurry reported an upsurge in books released as a percentage of all released applications.

But the difference appears to be continuing to grow fast, with twice as many new book apps being released over the past month, compared to games, according to Mobclix.

Blogs have speculated whether Apple was "catching up" on book app releases and whether or not a "clean-up" was to be expected ahead of the company’s iPad getting to US stores in early April, similar to the clean-up of other categories of applications in recent months.

While all or none of that might happen, the data from Mobclix does seem to confirm that at least publishers believe that readers are willing to read more than short-form news from their computer screens.

To anyone who’s ever used file-sharing services, none of this is any news. From FidoNet BBSs to torrent search engines, books have always been shared in a bewildering array of formats.

While some innovative publishers have started experimenting with interactivity and additional multimedia content for their ebooks, others are marketing ebooks as if they were software, giving users access to updates to the book over time.

Other technological changes, including HTML5, promise more changes for publishers and readers ahead, where books will no longer be just text and still images.

But I guess that’s when the nay-sayers and Luddites will claim that reading ebooks is not like Reading a Real Book.

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