According to market researcher Bowker, older age groups’ e-book consumption continues to grow: more than a quarter of 45- to 55-year-old and a fifth of over-55s bought an e-book in the six months to March 2012, up from 17% and 15% last November. All this while younger people’s e-book consumption is plateauing.
A OnePoll survey last year found the over-55s were more likely to own an e-reader than 18- to 24-year-old. No wonder: older people tend to be heavier book-buyers and e-readers have qualities that could make them indispensable to an ageing population. An obvious plus is the option to adjust text size and contrast. Until recently, people with increased eye-sight could only buy large-print books, which are hard to find. Now, not only can they read erotic books without anyone noticing, they can read these books in an 18-point font.
For the elderly, e-readers have even greater potential. They are light, which is handy for arthritis sufferers, especially those with poor vision as large-print hardcovers are pretty heavy. Devices with 3G are perfect for people who find it hard to get about, letting them download new books – and thousands of free classics – from the comfort of the armchair.
Perhaps the British government could issue pensioners with a Kindle instead of a free TV licence? Not only would this add up to a saving of £56.50 per person, it might end up bailing out our sickly publishing industry. Older readers have a distinct advantage over younger ones: they are more willing to pay for what they read.
Excerpt from an article in the Guardian