Nathan Bransford is always going on about how much he likes his kindle and that ereaders are the way of the future. I tend to disagree with him on that as I really don't like reading stories or articles in an electronic format. Since I've been doing it since dirt was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth, it's not a matter of just getting used to the format.
Anyway, as I was writing my comment on his blog post of December 30th, a wild thought entered my head: What if ereaders were used to increase the literacy rate? A question I have been pondering ever since.
Back in the late 90's I homeschooled my son. If ereaders had been available then and etextbooks and classics in ebook format to go along with it, I would have bought one in a heartbeat for my son and had him read all his assignments on the ereader.
What I learned from trying to teach him is that everyone has a personal preference for acquiring information and experiencing fiction. If you take the same chunk of information and put it into print, audio, video, or computer text, a person will acquire that information faster from one of those mediums than the rest. My son's preference is for audio or computer text. My preference is for print and video.
I used to buy audiobooks for him instead of print books. He loved them. And when we were on long car trips, we played his audiobooks on the car stereo. But here's what's interesting, I could not follow the story. My mind would start wandering all over the place and when it would come back to the audiobook, I would have no idea what was going on. (I was driving so it wasn't that big of deal.) He liked Stephen King and Michael Crichton, so I know that if I had the print book to read, my mind wouldn't have wandered all over the place. It wasn't the story, it was the format that it was in.
Given that, it seems to me that we could get more people into reading and enjoying books if we got those people who "hate to read" to try reading ebooks. I'm guessing that a large number of those nonreaders will take to ebooks as they haven't print books, and that would mean more total books sales.
In other words, instead of trying to convert people who enjoy reading print books to reading ebooks, try converting nonreaders into ebook readers.
My wild thought for the day.
I wonder how I could go about testing this theory.