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E-books may well be the genre of our times. I think of them as a genre because they are re-defining the way we seek our reading material and they are influencing reading patterns. When Charles Dickens serialized his novels in magazines in Victorian England, every chapter started ending with a cliff-hanger to hook readers to come back next week and this defined fiction writing for quite some time. The layout and structure of the ebooks will definitely influence the content of ebooks – shorter chapters, smaller paragraphs are some of the obvious fall-outs we can already see. I wonder what else we will see – rise in novellas, more color images in all kinds of writing?

Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Ipad, Iphone, Ipod, Laptops – The list of devices on which people can read keeps increasing. This means there is an ever increasing demand for digital reading material. While many regular books are being made available in digital format, there is a growing industry of books written directly for the ebook market. An article in USA Today talks about the rapid growth in ebook sales in the week after the holidays because of the number of ereaders gifted during the holidays. Today’s news of the Verizon iPhone release means that there will be even more users accessing ebooks.

Images courtesy teleread, Sony, Nook, Kindle, Cubic Garden

While for now the bulk of what is being read is fiction, ebook consumers are constantly on the look out for new material. Ebooks lend themselves to impulse buys and an article in the Wall Street Journal about ereader habits notes that 51% of ebook consumers increased their purchases in the past year. Given that people can read anywhere at any time, there is growing demand for variety in reading material also. Students, researchers, professionals, entrepreneurs are all looking for a diverse range of subjects.

The other data quoted in the WSJ article from a Book Industry Study Group Inc survey indicates that ebook users said that 52% of their material is bought and 48% is free because of expired copyrights or because they were give-aways. This statistic is interesting from a marketing perspective. Ebooks are a big part of Internet marketing campaigns as they work wonderfully for building lists of potential clients. These numbers indicate that ebooks are likely to continue being a great marketing tool for anyone planning an Internet marketing campaign.

I am still a strong paper gal myself, but am reading more and more ebooks. My local library makes it so easy to download books late on a Friday night! What about you? Are you in the camp of ‘Never read an ebook’ or ‘Completely switched over to ebooks’? Do you love them or hate them?