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How technology is changing our reading habits

In this fascinating survey, paper-book lovers share how technology is changing their reading habits

PAPER TECH By Lucie Smoker
I asked four avid readers in Britain, Canada and the US how devices have changed their reading—but hold on a minute: these are four people who love paper books. Their responses showed how technology seems to support their literary habits—and broaden their horizons.

Do you enjoy paper books? Where do they fit in your mix? eBookSoda wants your thoughts, too. Check out the full survey below and then share your own answers in the comments. Invite your friends who love paper books to join in.



Leslee B. believes in true love, fairy tales, and happily ever afters. Mostly though, Leslee believes in coffee. She lives in the mid-western United States and tends to read three books at a time.

Fully converted from brick-n-mortar bookstore devotee to reading across several e-platforms (see below), Leslee still reads paper children’s books aloud to her son.


Leslee’s answers:

1. How do you read? In other words, on paper or devices and which ones?
Leslee: I’m one of those crazy people that can have two or three books going at once because I use different devices or apps. Primarily, I use my smart phone. I have two reading apps (Overdrive and Kindle) as well as an audio book app (Audible). I usually have an audio book going in my car as well. I also have a Kindle but am using it less frequently thanks to my smart phone Kindle app.

From time to time it’s easier for me to pick up an actual paper book, but generally I read less than half a dozen a year in paper form. For my young son (that I still read to) it is paper all the way from this Mama. He has a kids’ tablet that has a reading app on it and he listens to a few books on that as well.

2. What types of books do you like to read?
Leslee: My favorite genre is Romance and I enjoy full length books as well as novellas and shorts. I like all the subgenres; historical, paranormal, and contemporary. I am a sucker for the Happily Ever Afters. I do read a few mysteries, science fiction, urban fantasy, women’s literature, novels, and young adult books as well. If it ends well and is well written I will give it a chance. A couple of my favorite authors are Susanna Kearsley and Sarah Addison Allen … who have a way of bringing a little bit of magic into their books where it makes you wonder if magic could really be real!

3. Have your devices in any way changed WHAT you read or the frequency of your reading over the last five years?
Leslee- Having a smart phone enables me to read at the frequency I was accustomed to when I worked part time for a book store and took home several paper books each week. When I started working full time I went from reading a book a day (or two days) to reading a book a week until I discovered the smart phone apps. I always have my phone with me and if I find myself in a long line or eating lunch alone I can get lost for a few minutes in another place and time.



Rowena from Vancouver is an eternal learner who likes nothing better than to lose herself in a book. She also likes to travel and everywhere she goes, she picks up some tea, a shot glass and a fridge magnet.

Using the online reading community, Goodreads, Rowena has found more female and African authors. She reads most of them on paper, though uses her phone app when out without a book.



Rowena’s answers:

1. How do you read? In other words, on paper or devices and which ones?
Rowena: The majority of my reading is done the old-fashioned way, on paper. I have some backup e-books on the Kindle app on my phone that I read if I’m caught in public without a book.

2. What types of books do you like to read?
Rowena: I read quite broadly and my favourite genres are classics (especially English, French and Russian), African literature, poetry, biographies and Sociology. I find myself reading more African literature these days and a few of my favourite authors from that genre are Chinua Achebe (Nigeria), Mariama Ba (Senegal), Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) and Yvonne Vera (Zimbabwe). Poetry-wise, I enjoy Saul Williams, Fernando Pessoa, Pablo Neruda, Christina Rosetti, Aime Cesaire, Jack Mapanje and Leopold Sedar Senghor).

3. Have your devices in any way changed WHAT you read or the frequency of your reading over the last five years?
Rowena: Using Goodreads and seeing what others are reading has helped me broaden my reading horizons even more. Additionally, having a record of the books I read online has helped me see that I need to read more women authors.



Mike Jeffs is a student at the University of Leicester, England, studying Geography. Despite his well-spoken southern accent his literary interests extend across many genres and platforms.

Mike finds news and short stories easier to manage on his phone’s Kindle app. He still prefers novels mostly on paper.


Mike’s answers:

1. How do you read? In other words, on paper or devices and which ones?
Mike: Preference for paper books due to ‘feel’ and even smell. Also use my phone using the Kindle app if I’ve been unable to bring a paper book with me somewhere.

2. What types of books do you like to read?
Mike: I generally like to read anything: autobiographies, fantasy, fiction or non-fiction. Probably my favourite series has been the Pratchett Discworld novels, although at the moment I am reading Bukowski’s ‘Women’ which is probably as far removed from that as you can get. The only magazines I read are either gossip magazines (guilty pleasure for a bit of fun at the lies to be honest) or motorsport magazines.

3. Have your devices in any way changed WHAT you read or the frequency of your reading over the last five years?
Mike: I would say the change has not been that great … however, I do feel that news is easier obtained on my phone so I may prefer to list some articles on the Guardian to read rather than bring a book somewhere if I have no means to carry a book, same goes for short stories I have on the Kindle app.



Mallory Brooks is a native Texan masquerading as a New Englander. She’s a huge football fan, avid reader and Mexican food connoisseur with a penchant for hyperbole.

Mallory enjoys reading news and longer, would-be heavier. books on her Kindle or iPhone app. She prefers paper books at home but prefers the convenience of e-books on the road.



Mallory’s answers:

1. How do you read? In other words, on paper or devices and which ones?
Mallory: I love the smell of a new, fresh paperback, and physically turning the pages. However, I do have a Kindle, and the Kindle app on my iPhone. The majority of my “electronic” reading happens when I’m traveling – it’s a lot easier to read Gone With The Wind on the subway as a one-inch-thick tablet than as a 1,037 page book. I only use my phone when I have no other option.”

2. What types of books do you like to read?
Mallory: I prefer long-form novels. My favorite genres are fiction, mysteries and crime-drama, and sci-fi. For news consumption, I prefer to read online and in list/article form. An increasingly large amount of the news I read comes from the Huffington Post or Buzzfeed. I also use an app called Zite – which is like Pandora for news. It selects articles you may be interested in based on previously read articles or categories that you’ve liked.

3. Have your devices in any way changed WHAT you read or the frequency of your reading over the last five years?
Mallory: I went from getting most of my news via television, to reading it (which I infinitely prefer). My iPhone has absolutely been a huge factor in that switch, as well as enabling me to have books on hand at all times. For instance, I’m in Chicago this week for a conference. I forgot my Kindle at home, and my paperback was buried too deeply inside my carry-on to be of any use during the flight. Even though it’s my least preferred method of reading, I just opened my book on my phone and was fine. Five years ago, I would have had a pretty miserable hour and a half in the air.

The rest is up to you! Leave a comment and join in the discussion
on how technology has influenced your reading habits…

lucie smoker


Lucie Smoker is a freelance arts writer and bestselling suspense author. Her first mystery, DISTORTION, features artist Adele Proust who walks into a murder scene just before it burns. When she paints the scene in reverse perspective, she brings out new clues—plus some thugs with big guns . . .


6 thoughts on “How technology is changing our reading habits

  1. Catherine

    I prefer paper books at home but electric books when I’m out. I cannot read off phones like the younger girls in the article but I do read on my Kindle when I travel. I prefer mysteries and true crime but do enjoy some romance on the side.

    1. Sha Post author

      It seems that people aren’t sticking to either paperbacks OR ebooks, but are choosing different reading methods for different situations, depending on lifestyle etc

  2. Michelle

    I used to read a few books a year; nothing substantial. I received a Kindle for my birthday one year and started to read a little more, but the last few years, I’ve really picked up on my reading thanks to the Kindle app, and your avid reader, Leslee B. up there. (Hi Lola!!!) Having a friend who likes to read and recommends good stories is a big plus!

    1. Sha Post author

      Hi Michelle, thanks for dropping by. I love how most people I’ve spoken to about this, agree their reading has increased since having access to electronic books.

      And I agree – you can’t beat book recommendations from friends!

  3. Lorraine

    Thanks, Lucie, for this insight into reading habits.

    As an aspiring author myself and a 30-year veteran IT professional, it’s important to give readers the ability to read in their preferred format(s). My own reading habits are almost exclusively electronic these days, although my failing eyesight makes for eternal smartphone scrolling :-) The Kindle app now “remembers” your place in any book, which means I can steal a few minutes during my work lunchbreak on my tablet, and then carry on reading on my Kindle at night.

    I use a variety of e-tools for editing, mimicking a reader in as many ways as possible, and recently have become addicted to text-to-speech software. It’s fascinating to hear my words read back to me, providing vital clues to how phrasing and punctuation can help to convey the intended meaning.

    Having said all this however, there was no more satisfying feeling than receiving the paperback version of my first book!

  4. Lucie

    I’m with you Lorraine on the eye strain. I enjoy my iPad and Kindle most but still read paper books in the evenings at home.

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