Charles Engelke's Blog

May 2, 2009

Kindle Demographics

Filed under: Gadgets,Notes — Charles Engelke @ 4:26 pm

Engadget pointed me to a post on the Kindle Culture blog that claims that most Kindle owners are over 40.  The research behind the claim is a bit informal, but it seems credible.

So (assuming this is true) why are Kindle owners older than other gadget owners?  The Kindle’s expensive, but I don’t think that’s it.  A lot of extremely expensive gadgets are very popular with teenagers and twenty-somethings.  The ability to change the font size may be a small factor, but I don’t think that’s behind this either.

I think it’s because lifelong readers tend to keep a lot of their books, and eventually there are so many they’ve become overwhelming.  I’m 53, and based on rough estimates from linear shelf space and overload factors, my wife and I have somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 books in our house.  It just seems natural to hold on to them, but we’ll only reread a tiny fraction of them.

The Kindle (well, Kindles, one for each of us) lets us keep reading new books without adding to the shelves, piles, and mounds of books we’ve got.  I was very slow to get one because of the DRM – I don’t really own any of the books I’m buying, and I don’t expect to be able to still read them a few years down the road.  But if I want to reread a book in a decade or two or three, I’ll just buy another copy then.  Thanks to electronic publishing, anything I want is likely to still be “in print”, and it’s less expensive to buy a few duplicate copies than to get a bigger house to save all that paper.  And the Kindle is just about as good a physical reading experience as a typical paper book.

I will still buy some paper books.  The Kindle’s screen isn’t big enough for most technical books (in my opinion).  And there are books I’ll want to have and keep for sentimental reasons.  But I’d be pretty happy if I could get the paper book count in the house down below 1000 some day.


1 Comment

  1. Saw that article also. I would say your take on it is probably close to the mark. I just wish they would get the price down a bit and get a couple shipped to Best Buy. I would love to play with one and see if it is something I could use, before spending the money on one. Guess I’ll wait and see what they announce on Wednesday.

    Comment by Rande — May 5, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

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