Potential of e-readers in Germany

With the use of e-readers, reading becomes more appealing for children and teenagers.

This is one of the major findings of a study conducted in 2011 by the German reading foundation Stiftung Lesen on the potential of e-readers in the promotion of reading. The study clearly shows that the use of e-readers lowers the inhibition threshold for the first contact with books.

For this experimental study, the reading behaviour of children of four classes (grade 6) of different comprehensive schools located in the Rhine-Main Area has been examined during one year. One class has been provided with a library of printed books, another class with e-readers and e-books. Class three has been provided with printed books as well as e-readers and e-books, and a fourth class has not been equipped with a library at all, but was taken as control group.

The analysis of the children’s reading attitudes shows that children who are provided with e-readers and e-books are much more attracted by the literature available than those who have access to printed books only. The same is true for “thick books”: as e-books they are chosen far more frequently than their printed counterparts. An e-book cover obviously looks harmless, whereas a book spine may have a discouraging effect on inexperienced readers.

However, to keep the initial enthusiasm alive and to turn it into a sustainable interest in reading, some essential (technical) preconditions have to be fulfilled:
• appealing selection of literature (books, comics, etc.)
• fast, smooth and intuitive access to e-books
• chat function
• comment function

From the perspectives of children, e-readers give books a “cool” and modern image. Therefore, the use of this technical device will surely play a major role in tomorrow’s promotion of reading.