Each week here at the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, we look at numbers. The number of copies sold for each book shows what aspect of South Dakota history is attracting your attention and making you curious. We publish everything from scholarly works to memoirs to biographies to books kids love. Our aim is to interest every reader (and even those too young to read for themselves) in some facet of our state’s history. And now, with the addition of e-books, there is a new dimension to our numbers—not just what type of reading you do, but what medium you choose for your reading. I decided to survey my own family members, who range in age from their teens to their seventies, to see how they prefer to read their books. The answers were a bit surprising.
The fourteen-year-old definitely prefers paper-cover books, which she finds easier to hold. She likes our new e-reader, but not for reading; she uses it for games. In fact, she finds reading on an e-reader “annoying” (her word of choice about many things these days). The sixteen-year-old does not like e-books and is very specific about what she does like. She showed me our 1920s-era copy of Two Little Confederates by Thomas Nelson Page and says she loves this book because of the “sounds” and the “words” and, especially, the “feel” of it. She liked that the binding has real thread and that the book looks very old. This was surprising, coming from a girl who enjoys Christopher Paolini and James Patterson, as well—but NOT in e-book form.
The twenty-somethings like both formats. My son enjoys having an e-reader but says that lately he uses it for magazines with short articles, which are all he has time to read right now, while my older daughter likes e-books for the ease of carrying the e-reader in her purse. However, she adds that she will usually own a good book in both forms because, like her sisters, she likes the feel of a book in her hands when she reads at home.
The forty-something (that’s me) is getting hooked on e-books! What’s not to like ? I’m constantly running here and there, waiting somewhere to pick someone up from something. With one touch on my e-reader, I’m right back where I left off the last time I had five minutes to spare. Last night, I spent ten dollars on an e-book that I already have in hardcover. A Stephen King novel, it is so thick that I can’t hold it while reading in bed, and it is cumbersome to travel with. Now I can read both, depending on where I am—perfect.
My survey ended with the seventy-somethings, my in-laws, who responded, “A what kind of book?” The next time I visit them, I plan to take along an e-reader loaded with some books that I know they’ll like and teach them how to use it. I predict they’ll enjoy it, just like my own mom does.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your books, the SDSHS Press can provide you with great reading. Currently, twelve of our books are available as e-books, and six more are soon to be released. We also have several e-book “shorts.” Check them out at our website, sdshspress.com. Some of your old favorites just might be available for you to read in a new way.