Not an audiobook fan? Do you prefer print books while everyone else seems to have made the jump to ereaders? Have you ever wondered why you prefer one book format over another? Believe it or not, your format preference is motivated by a number of interesting factors. Here’s what research and scientific theory have to say about why readers prefer different book formats.
A 2011 survey revealed different buy vs. borrow rates for book formats. Between 54% and 61% of print and ebook readers preferred to own copies of books, compared to just a third of audiobook listeners. Of the 61 percent of audiobook borrowers, those with library cards were more likely to borrow instead of buy copies.
Many people assume that young readers prefer ebooks, which can be accessed on digital devices, but research contradicts this assumption. A survey of 16-24-year-old readers indicated more than 60% preferred print books, most who said they liked holding a book in their hands.
Ebooks don’t offer a sensory reading experience, but they deliver a wealth of practical advantages that appeal to readers:
- Cheaper than print books
- Instant access/immediate gratification
- Storage space is not an issue
- Less conspicuous
People process information differently Educators recognize seven learning styles. A person’s (combined) learning style can influence which book format they prefer.
- Visual (spatial): Preference for pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): Preference for sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): Preference for words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): Preference for body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): Preference for logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): Preference for groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): Preference for being alone and self-study.
Some research has been conducted on how personality traits impact entertainment preferences. The theory is that different types of content fulfill different psychological needs, such as mood, attitude and disposition.
Lifestyle undoubtedly influences what format readers prefer. One Reddit discussion thread demonstrates this in an example provided by WoodensBeard who wrote about having time in his late teens to “read books ad nauseum,” but later in life did not have space for storing books nor time to read them so he’d turned to audiobooks, listening while cooking, cleaning, traveling and using his computer.
So why do different people prefer different formats? Here are my unscientific, unproven theories:
People who prefer print books like the tactile sensation of reading, such as the weight of the book, the sound and sensation of flipping pages and the scent of books. They also enjoy the visual component of full bookshelves, catching sight of favorite titles/authors and the imagery of covers.
People who prefer ebooks are motivated by practical concerns such as cost and convenience.
People who prefer audiobooks like the convenience and accessibility, as well as the auditory “storytelling” component.
Authors know readers have difference preferences, which is why so many deliver their books in all three formats. When one of our primary goals is to connect with new readers, offering print, ebook and audiobooks amplifies our opportunities to do so.
If you would like to receive the audio version of A Cantata of Love in exchange for an honest review on Audible, please email me at Jacki@JackiDelecki.com.