There is no denying that there are more smartphones in the world than tablets and dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle. It is also important to note that the overall reading population in the US is massive. The books market, in terms of total books sold worldwide, is bigger than both movies and music. In a recent interview with Willem Van Lancker, the creative co-founder of eBook subscription service Oyster he said that future of books is not your tablet or e-reader, but your smartphone. This is quite the bombshell, but is it due to availability bias?
Availability bias is a human cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the probability of events associated with memorable or vivid occurrences. Because memorable events are further magnified by coverage in the media, the bias is compounded on the societal level. You only have to look at the blitz media coverage of any phone issued by Apple to see the societal impact and lifestyle psychology.Very rarely do you see the same type of effect on a new e-reader or tablet.
There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2014, according to estimates The International Telecommunication Union. This is equivalent to 95.5% of the world population. Tablet sales so far in 2014 have only accounted for 270.7 million units.
Every major report by statistical organizations all proclaim that people are reading more on their smartphones than any other device. This is primarily due to it always being in our pocket and easily accessible. The devices also are heavily subsidized with phone carriers often giving you free upgrades every few years, whereas e-readers and tablets do not enjoy the same type of upgrade cycle, you basically have to pay full price.
Some people see phones as gateways to dedicated e-readers and tablets. Once you become immersed and maintain a habit of reading on a daily basis, making the switch to an e-reader or tablet makes you a more valuable consumer that is more likely to spend more money on eBooks.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Oyster, and Scribd all report that its their Android and iOS apps that get the most traction and they are all primarily optimized for smartphones. These companies realize that that is that their audience are using the most to buy and read digital books or fan-fiction.
What device is everyone using to read on a daily basis? Is it the quintessential smartphone? Are you using it primarily because its the one device always with you? Is there something to the availability bias argument? Weigh in on the comment section below.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.