• nextgenlibrarian

    I have some ebooks I purchased but haven’t yet read. I bought them when they were in sale for like $1, $2, or $3. I’m interested in reading these books, but they aren’t high priorities. A number of new books are published every month that I care about more than these books I have already purchased, so I put off reading then a bit longer. Oh well.

    I usually read books to completion, and have read over 40 books this year in addition to all the news feeds, blogs, longer form articles, etc. that I read.

  • Jakub Valošek

    I think poeple just don’t start reading new books immediately. Last few months I bought some 20 books but I finished just 2 of them till now. It takes some time to read something and I still have a bookshlef with printed books I am reading now. I am impulsive book buyer but I also tend to put something off when I find something more interesting. And there is also fact that licences of ebooks can be depleted- resellers have time limited license or have finite amount of copies they can sell. If there is something I would like to read I will definitely buy it.

  • Winter&Summer

    If I buy a ebook I rarely don’t read it (or attempt to read it). However, if I ever buy an Amazon ebook, I first strip it of its DRM and then read it in my favorite eBook reader app that only reads ePub (Marvin for iOS). Amazon will never count my ebook opening on Kindle. I bet some more are doing the same.

  • Jonathan Agathokles

    I do still have a bunch of eBooks in my Kobo library that I haven’t even opened yet. I can be an impulse buyer at times, but another reason is that I have a lot of print books as well as eBooks still to read, and I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of books I want to read, and then simply shut down and don’t read for a long time.

    At this point in my life, I mostly read when travelling by train. And I don’t like reading at home because I don’t really have a place where I can just get comfortable with a book (or eReader)and read undisturbed. I have also been moving away again from reading eBooks, partly because of the fact my eReader is still an old Nook Simple Touch from the pre-glowlight era – so I have to take the step of downloading my eBooks from Kobo (the only place I get my eBooks from) via Adobe Digital Editions, importing them into Calibre, and then sending them via USB connection to my Nook. It doesn’t help that I kind of dislike my Nook and would prefer to get either a Kobo eReader or an eReader with open Android so I can install my own apps for reading.

    Finally, my infatuation with eBooks and their advantages is over for quite a few months now, as I find the issue of ownership (or lack thereof concerning eBooks) and control over my purchase trumping its advantages. Also, since I started reading more print books again, I have a new appreciation for the feeling of holding a book in your hands, the tactile sensation of turning the pages, of seeing your progression visually as the pages read become more plentiful and the pages yet unread decrease in number.

    I’m starting to think that eBooks will eventually fade away mostly and that it’ll become more something of fan fiction or erotica, things people can’t easily find in print or are too bashful to read in public as a print book. The printed book might be a format hundreds of years old, but ultimately I think you can’t improve on perfection, on something that has been part of our culture for so many hundreds of years.

  • Adam Shields

    I wonder if they are separating free and non free books? I pick up all kinds of free books that I don’t actually end up reading because I think I might read them someday. Like others I don’t read a lot of books I buy immediately, but I get to most of them eventually.

    There is not good comparison to real print books. I wouldn’t be surprised if many purchasers of print books also don’t read them.

  • Reader

    Based on my experience, I don’t see this as earth-shaking news. No, I have not read all of my e-books. Most of my e-books I have not finished, though I have at least dipped into nearly all of them. But I always bought more print books than I read. It looked like an interesting book which I figured I would read someday. My e-book completion is thus similar to my print book completion. However, I am reading more with e-books- two to three a week.

  • Imprevist

    “Last few months I bought some 20 books but I finished just 2 of them till now.” I am impulsive book buyer but I also tend to put something off when I find something more interesting.”

    This is the issue across the board right now, people are too distracted to follow through. Also an ereader makes one susceptible to go on an impusive binging spree, loading up on ebooks they don’t plan on immediately reading. I blame technology.

  • britmys

    Because I have the opportunity of “purchasing” free e-books through ebub’s daily emails, I am doing so and putting them in a file I have entitled “Kindle Library.” I have yet to open a single one but when I travel, I will have my portable library with me.

  • Kiera Chandler

    I read everyone of mine and have open each one at least once I am OCD and have to read them in order

  • I can’t say I’m that surprised by these findings. I now read almost exclusively using the Amazon Kindle where many books, particularly self-published genre fiction, cost very little – often just 99p or even free to download. At such prices you can get several for less than the cost of a cappuccino, so I tend to buy anything that sounds vaguely interesting, and then forget about it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to do that.

  • Unread books are nothing new.

  • Albin

    Bit creepy that this is known and tracked.

    “We notice, Comrad, that you have not opened Volume 1 of the Beloved Leader’s “Wisdom” yet. You will report to your Precinct Office on Monday Morning and remain there until you have completed it. Compliance is mandatory.”

  • Carl Berger Sr

    I have the same habit with borrowed or free eBooks or Print. Start them shortly after getting and returning or forgetting them if the first two or three chapters don’t “work.” Expensive or well reviewed eBooks or Print get a few more chapters. 🙂 Over all my reading has increased significantly with the use of eReaders.

  • jdawgnoonan

    I read 99% of the ebooks that I buy for myself. The books that I don’t read are usually ones that I buy that are related to my work; I have good intentions but really just don’t care enough about work to waste my time off on it since I’ll only live once.

  • Jacob Pressures

    Some books I buy are reference materials related to work or related to things I’m interested in. Unfortunately, I am guilty of buying more books than I can read. Its a waste of money. Also honestly, i love my Kindle but…. its not the best format for remembering or being enticed to read. A book on my book shelf might be more enticing. Especially on my old Kindle Keyboard, it was too dark and I felt i was going into a dark place in cyberspace. Now with a Voyage in some cases it just feels like a ton of books. Maybe color will one day make them a bit more appealing. Now I say all of this, but I DO READ A LOT on my Kindle! Having Text-to-Speech helped as well as i could review material I had read previously more easily.

  • Wpjs

    I admit I have few unread print books. But at least they still serve a purpose. The books look nice on the shelf and fool some folks into thinking I’m smarter than I am. I never download a book unless I intend to read it and I always do.

  • ZanetheWise

    Is this really a bad thing? While some may be buying books they lack the motivation to actually read, I’d guess that the majority of unopened ebooks are owned by avid readers that are actively building a digital library. After all, they all own an e-reader.

    I’ve re-bought old favorites digitally so I can be sure to always have them on hand. Then there are Kindle/Kobo Daily Deals as well as the thousands of public domain classics available for the low, low price of $0.00. It’s easy and inexpensive to build a varied ebook backlog; and there’s no real downside to being sure you’ll always have something with you that you want to read. One advantage is that you’ll never again buy an overpriced pulp novel in an airport only to throw it away unread. 😉

    On that note, I wonder how many of the print books out there have actually been opened. I don’t doubt digital has a higher number of unread books thanks to an across-the-board lower barrier of entry; but I bet the numbers are fairly close

  • jdawgnoonan

    I recently read a hard cover book and I missed ebooks the entire time. I kept catching myself touching words to look up definitions and one night was disappointed when I remembered that I could not pick up the book that I was reading on my phone’s app when I was out to eat because I was reading the hard cover and not on my Paperwhite. I have no desire to switch back to analog books.

  • Winter Arcane

    I read an average of a book per week, but buy much more than I read because I am addicted to ebook freebie and discount sites. So after years of this I have hundreds of untouched ebooks. I like to believe there are a lot of readers like me skewing these numbers especially since people like me are exactly the kind of people who would volunteer to have there activity tracked in return for free and discounted ebooks.

  • Fiona Marsden

    My problem with ebooks is two fold. I buy a lot of books simply because they are free or on a .99 special that I probably would never normally buy. The second thing is that once they are on my kindle, it’s easy to forget they are there. Even books I’ve started to read. It’s just too much effort to try and remember the name so I can do a search on a kindle that has hundreds, possibly thousands of books to scroll through.

  • jswwrites

    I almost never get free books, except on KU, and I always read those so I can get them off the account. (Our family shares so we can max that out pretty fast.) I have probably read 95% of what I’ve bought/downloaded – I don’t see the point in getting stuff I’m not going to read. It just clutters up my library making it harder to see what I do want to read! Now, since we share an account as a family, there are things in my library that I personally haven’t read and probably won’t – my son likes books on the military, my daughter the classics, and I won’t be reading any of that any time soon. But even as a family, I’d estimate we have over 80% at any one time.

  • Julia Lewis

    I will get books that are free or discounted to read at a later time, especially since I plan to retire in a year.

  • Beth

    I always read my most expensive books first.. I wouldn’t pay $10 for them if I didn’t want to read them, and NOW. Otherwise, I’d get them from the library.

  • Janet Ann Collins

    I hate reading e-books, and haven’t read most of those on my Kindle and old Nook. But I do read lots of old fashioned, hard copy books and consider myself a bookaholic.

  • TKay Michel

    I don’t think it has anything to do with ebooks specifically. Every avid reader I know is also a book hoarder. I have stacks of paperbacks and even a few hardbacks which I haven’t yet read. And yes, I’d say about half of my ebooks are still unread, too. Avid readers tend to collect books they intend to read…someday. The only thing that’s changed is that it’s easier for retailers to track ebooks and know if they’ve gone unread.

  • TKay Michel

    At this point, I’ve quit downloading free or cheap books unless I know and love the author because so many are poorly written, self-published crap. And I’ll also admit that most of the unread books on my Kindle are the free or cheap crap that I downloaded before I realized they weren’t really a bargain. With so many good books out there, I’d rather pay for something worthwhile than waste my time with something bad just because it’s free.

  • TKay Michel

    I know OCD has become a slang term for perfectionism, but Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a very real and painful psychological disorder, and it’s disrespectful to those who suffer from it to use the term so casually. Call yourself a rigid control freak if you want to be honest, but please have some respect for others who truly suffer from this condition by NOT pretending you’re one of them. If you had a cold, would you laugh about having cancer and think it was okay because you’re “just making a joke”? I think not.

  • TKay Michel

    I’m the opposite. I prefer the experience of reading analog books, but I keep my Kindle for traveling. I have a huge vocabulary (thanks to my grandmothers, who were both teachers) so I don’t use the dictionary function, and since I read so fast, my fingers get sore from hitting the buttons to turn the pages. I think there are advantages to both formats, though, so I use both. I especially love being able to take an entire library in one small device when I’m going somewhere.

  • Jennifer

    I am an avid reader and read 2-3 books a week. I try to get e-books (kindle) when they are on sale. I have a lot of e-books that I haven’t yet read as there are just so many books that I want to read.

  • Karen K.

    I have both big collections of ebooks and paper books and have not even opened the marjority of books in both collections. So many books, so little time. I often get books that I’m interested in at a great price or at a time when I’m not sure if I’ll get another chance to get that book at a future time.again for both ebooks and paper books.

  • Karen K.

    The last sentence should read…
    “get that book at a future time for both ebooks and paper books.”

    Sometimes I see an interesting article about a book and then later when I remember the article, I can’t remember the title of the book well enough to do a successful search for it. I lost too many opportunities to get the book because of that.

  • Wendy

    I do it. Not because I never intend to read the books, but I buy a few at a time and then find something else I want to read and get diverted. I do eventually go back but right now I have books I’ve bought up to 2-3 years ago that I haven’t touched. Having said that, I also have paperbacks in my book shelf that have had the same treatment. Bought on special with the intention to get to them eventually.

  • Beth

    I do it. When I great book is a “Daily Deal” or “Monthly Deal” or whatever on Amazon, I buy them “just in case”–never full price though, it’s always the sale books that might not get opened (eventually, though, maybe…)

  • ullalauridsen

    Exactly what Beth said below. Same with classics – when I see a collected Oscar Wilde or Jane Austen or something at 1 dollar, I grab it ‘just to have it’. Stupid, maybe, but there it is.

  • I understand what you’re saying, but you are rather assuming that Kiera is not actually OCD …

  • Lyn Gillespie Ehley

    I have tons of ebooks on my devices but would rather read a book in print.

  • Martha Smith

    I am an avid reader (I’ve read at least 85 books since 1-1-2015). Yet I probably have read only 30% of the ebooks I have purchased. I buy ebooks
    * because they are on sale and I intend to read them later, and something distracts me
    * because I already read them in print and want an e-copy
    * because they are in the back catalog of authors I really like and I’m not sure how long they will stay available in any format
    * because they are related to my work, but I’m not often motivated to do work reading during my free time
    Lately I have found myself preordering books at full price and not reading them right away, aargh! Usually it is because I’m caught up in a different book at the time the preordered book arrives. I only do this with authors I really really like, usually if it’s the next book in an ongoing series, but still, I’m trying to stop.

    I still check books out from the library, but more and more often, I return them unread. It’s more comfortable to read e-books (lighter weight, backlight, adjustable font, no need to mark my place, etc.) The library copy helps me decide whether to purchase the e-book. For example, I want to read Unfair by Adam Benforado but the e-book is $13.99. I checked the hard copy out of the library and never got around to reading it, which means I’ll probably never get around to purchasing the e-copy either, unless it gets marked down significantly. If the e-book were $6.99, I would have bought it without a second thought, but would I have read it yet? Hard to say.

    I used to buy too many print books, too, and still have piles of print books I intend to read “someday.” If it were possible to track print book habits, I suspect no one would be shocked by this Kobo finding.

  • barblibrarian

    This is not news. I have read almost 80 books since the beginning of the year. This is no where near the number of ebooks or hardcover/paperback books I have accumulated. This has been true for me my whole life, and I have many, many friends saying the same thing. Our “to read list” is not possible in our lifetime, but we are still optimistic we will get to it someday. This is just as true of ebooks as it used to be with paper books. I don’t understand why anybody thinks this is a new thing. By the way, I am a librarian. No one reads all the books they check out of the library either.

  • barblibrarian

    Please be sure to check if your library has downloadable ebooks. We do at my library.

  • Martha Smith

    We do at my library, too! And I download them often. 🙂 If the library purchases an e-copy of Unfair whenever it is allowed to, maybe I will check it out again that way.

  • Amanda Brown

    It might also be those freebies that people ‘buy’ in droves. I often find that they aren’t quite what I’m looking for and either plan to leave it for when I have nothing else to read or not at all. Soo many books and not enough time.

  • Kelly Sloan

    My thoughts exactly. There are tons of those sites or feeds that promote free kindle titles for the day. You go ahead and download (because it’s free and why not) but they were impulse downloads that don’t have a spot on your tbr list.

  • Arianna

    Another possible explanation for some of the noted behavior: Sometimes I flip between reading an ebook and its physical counterpart. That means that many times a book won’t look finished on my digital account, even if it has been.

    I am also guilty of taking advantage of Amazon’s daily freebies because there are plenty of classics I’ve still yet to get around to! Plus, I would never say no to a free book, especially one that won’t take up more space on my shelves! So I am probably looking at having read very, very little on my Kindle relative to what is there. However, I also read voraciously and, like many have said before, for a book lover you often just hoard books so you always have the next thing to read at your fingertips! My to-read list will never be completed, I know that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to try.

  • wurdnurd

    I think your last sentence is the most telling, and the one I immediately thought of. It’s only shocking because these metrics can be measured on ebooks, and that’s a relatively new phenomenon. My GR Reading Challenge counter says I’ve read 120 books this year (my goal is 150, fingers crossed!), and that includes audiobooks, graphic novels, standard novels and children’s/YA books, but doesn’t include books I couldn’t finish, books I perused but didn’t necessarily “read” nor, of course, books I own but haven’t touched. Sure, the 200 or so ebooks and 100 eaudio books that live on my phone and tablet continue to be unread for the meantime, but no one is saying boo about the shelves and shelves of unread books in my apartment (although I get looks from my coworkers at the bookstore when I’m buying new books)!

  • Martha Smith

    I read somewhere that Michael Kinsley visited a bunch of DC bookstores back when Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time was a bestseller. Kinsley stuck slips of paper into the middle of the sale copies that said something like, “When you find this, contact me and win $50.” No one claimed the money–Kinsley felt it was because people were buying the books but not actually reading them. 🙂

  • Jessica Porter

    I would have to say that I’m an offender of this. I have hundreds of ebooks that I don’t read. Most of them ive gotten either free or were gifted to me for review. Which those I do read. But ones ive purchased I can’t even tell you the last time I read one. Now one reason is because for the past three months ive had massive migraines.

  • I’ve read only the first 8-10 of these comments and they all make sense! We’re also far too busy. We have good intentions, but you know what the road to hell is paved with!

  • I buy and read 3-5 ebooks a week. I read them on the Amazon cloud, not my Kindle. My browser lets me have nice, big text and I don’t have to hold onto anything to read. Just change the page with my mouse or space bar. I pay Amazon.ca about $10 a month for unlimited reading of their unlimited books (not all books are available). You take out the book and return it when you are done, you do not get to keep a digital copy. This is much more realistic for me given the number of books I read and go through in a week. So the above theory doesn’t fit everyone. I’m an avid reader, but I am also disabled and not able to work either.

  • Crystal

    I don’t know if you can blame it on just technology because I do the same thing with print books as well. My family got me a kindle because of my book hoarding lol but I will still snatch up print books at garage sales and thrift stores by the bag full . So even without technology there are ways for people to collect books that they do not have enough time to read.

  • Imprevist

    No doubt I also used to do the same thing with Amazon Prime buying used books for four bucks. I realized I was collecting books not reading them and if anything they were distracting me and preventing me from making progress.
    Now same concept applies with the Kindle except probably even worse because technology makes it easier to succumb to this compulsive behavior.

  • Alice Cook

    Sadly, I know exactly why I don’t read many of my ebooks anymore. It has become so easy to publish an ebook that, unfortunately, many of them just aren’t good. I know that tons of great writers are going the self publishing route these days, and the stigma against self publishing is going down some, but the simple fact is many not-so-great writers are also publishing that way, and most of their books are in ebook format. I’ve downloaded so many books from authors that I didn’t know, and to be honest, I’d say about 85%-90% of them weren’t, well, good. They were either poorly written (most of them) or just plain boring. I still get excited when I see a good cover picture or read a summary that sounds interesting, so I’ll download it, but when I sit down to actually read something, I usually get discouraged from my past experiences and fall back on authors I know or other books I have that I know are good and reread those. I just expect the ones I’ve download to be bad because most of them have been, and I don’t want to waste the few moments I’ve managed to steal for myself on a bad book.

  • SomeoneSomeplace

    A LOT of people use the library service to download and read ebooks from the LIBRARY! I HOPE KOBO and Amazon are READING THIS!!!
    I am a book blogger and come across MANY people who read ebooks, and they are on waiting lists at the libraries for “ebooks”! They openly talk about this which is how I know, and also it is SHOWN in the weekly meme called Stacking the Shelves which can be found at Tyngasreviews dot com (in case we can’t leave links!!) Her blog is the “HOSTING” blog and where we bloggers who do this Post ALL go and and list our blog’s name and link for OUR POST! I just did mine for the 9th time. I kept meaning to do this post, and believe me, it BRINGS THE TRAFFIC TO OUR BLOGS! WHEW!!! Had I known that, I would have done it MUCH sooner!!!
    The #1 complaint about ebooks in the library – there are NEVER enough copies! People get VERY upset, frustrated and MAD about this! I would too if I did it! I understand libraries can’t afford to purchase a LOT of ebooks, but a LOT of people are on the waiting list for OVER 6 months!

  • you can get cheap ebooks from ( http://www.ebookswiki.com ) its actually the cheapest ebook store online every ebook is mostly under 5$ and they have that request an ebook page too .. btw good article

  • Carolyn Cooper-Smith

    I love reading ABOUT books almost as much as I enjoy reading them, and I am exposed to way too many electronic books. On my Nook, bn.com, and amazon.com I continually am caught up in reading book overviews, professional reviews, reader reviews, samples and extracts. I probably research seven books for every one I read. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding which book to read next. And since I’m a lifelong bookworm I sometimes have to determine if I’ve read a book already. Old fogey that I am, I still read the newspaper every day, but now it’s on my eReader with occasional headlines via email. Since my new nook is also a kickbutt tablet, I have even more resources to find bargain books than I did when my reading life was all about paper. Back then I was buried in books stacked on shelves, tables, chairs, the floor–everywhere. Now I have almost 1,000 ebooks, and my house is neat. My Bookshelves are reserved for big reference, design, art, and travel books–heavy, gorgeous books that used to clutter my coffee tables. The personal down side? I am sometimes sidetracked from reading ebooks by Internet links like “25 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Black” (Yes, I’m African-American). But I own so many books now, what riches! The book-world downside? A plethora of badly written, derivative disasters published by the self-helpless, too many poorly edited works from authors who should know better, and not enough well-produced really good reads. But so many books to choose from!

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