Books shelved as e-reading wins converts

CHEAP CONVENIENCE: Nick Butcher loves his e-reader, which offers low-cost and accessible content.

CHEAP CONVENIENCE: Nick Butcher loves his e-reader, which offers low-cost and accessible content.

The traditional bookshop is under threat as more and more Kiwis get their literary fix online or electronically.

An analysis of data from the Companies Office shows more bookshops closed in 2013 than in the last 12 years, perhaps prompted by the rise of electronic book readers - or e-readers.

Since 2007, data shows 291 Kiwi bookstores have closed - 68 in 2013, 50 in 2012 and 26 in 2011.

Christchurch e-reader convert Nick Butcher said he was not surprised at the shift away from traditional books and used his Kindle as a first option for reading.

"I think the change to digital media is great," he said. "Content is more accessible and cheaper than it has ever been."

Butcher liked to have several books on the go and Kindle meant he did not have to carry around multiple paperback options.

"I'm usually in the process of reading several at any given time," he said.

"I read more as a result, because I've always got a book I feel like reading."

The convenience of buying online and the lower cost of material was a significant factor for many e-reader fans.

Online books usually cost less than a third of their hard copy counterparts, making them more accessible for people on lower budgets.

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A survey by Impact PR showed many people expected to increase their use of digital media when it came to reading online but had concerns it could affect literacy.

However, 92 per cent of those surveyed believed there was still a place for libraries in the future, despite the ever-growing popularity of e-books.

Butcher said he expected libraries to adapt to the rise of technology, becoming a place where users could interact with technology and find help with accessing information.

The survey showed while Kiwis liked going to the library, 46 per cent had downloaded or read an e-book in the last year.

Butcher said he would miss being able to browse the bookshelves and coffee tables at other people's houses or check out what people were reading in cafes.

On the plus side, an author he admired recommended a book on his Facebook page, and five minutes later Butcher had downloaded it to his Kindle for $3.27 and was into the first chapter.

He also liked that many online book retailers allowed people to read the first chapter before purchasing, thus reducing the likelihood of a poor purchase.

"However, I've never had the battery die with a paper book."

 - The Press

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