E-Reader Device Preferences for Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Have you noticed that generally speaking, there are two kind of people in the world – those who are fans of fiction and others who would rather spend their time absorbing nonfiction content? A researcher in Europe did, and that inspired him to conduct research to determine how those taste preferences impact the selection of an e-book reading device.

Which Kind of Reader are You?

All you have to do to confirm this phenomenon is to suggest a new nonfiction title for the novel-loving members of your book club to read. Then sit back and watch the fireworks as they inform you why diving into fiction is a much more rewarding experience.

Then again, if you are in the company of lots of hardcore nonfiction enthusiasts, recommending your favorite novel may result in lots of rolled eyes or raised eyebrows. People in the nonfiction camp usually want facts, real-life accounts, and informative and educational reads that are not muddled-up or watered down by fancy prose, imaginative character creations, and outrageously far-fetched plot lines.

Genre Hybrids

Of course you also those middle-of-the-road types who are sort of hybrid readers. They fall madly in love with writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote surrealistic stories that were magically out-of-this-world but which were still based on many true stories.

They may get excited by reading Hunter S. Thompson, whose journalistic escapades were half-truth, half-fiction. Most of those readers really appreciate the classics by Jack London whose fiction was rooted in his own adventurous experiences. Even Sherlock Holmes will appeal to these readers, since the stories are part fiction and part reality.

But maybe there are more than just two distinct kinds of readers, because genres are not always so easy to define and categorize. These days, for instance, so-called “narrative fiction” is wildly popular – although that genre can often straddle both fiction and biography or nonfiction. There are even books that fit more comfortably into the “mixed genre” category.

Academic Research into Reader Preferences

But regardless of what you enjoy reading, you will want to consider the kinds of practical, user-focused, technical options and features that are available to you. Those will depend on the characteristics of the individual e-book format, and may be even more substantially influenced by the technology and functionality of digital devices.

The differences can be significant enough to be measured through a controlled study, in fact, according to Arūnas Gudinavičius, a professor in the Communication Department at Vilnius University.

He teaches courses in digital publishing and media science and was part of the team that produced the very first e-book in Lithuania. Most recently he analyzed what consumers or reader value the most in terms of e-book quality criteria. The results of his rather extensive research are rather interesting, and could help guide your selection of an e-reader device.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction Results and Conclusions

The study looked at the question of reader preferences from multiple angles. But the overall conclusion was that in the case of nonfiction fans, e-reader device users expect to find higher quality features related to the actual navigation of the digital book. They want convenient reading, portability, and the flexibility of format compatibility across a variety of reading device platforms. When they don’t find those attributes they are somewhat disappointed.

Meanwhile fiction readers value things like user-friendliness and ease of use, so that they can slip into their novel rather seamlessly without really thinking about the mechanics of the device. They want a book that has pleasing aesthetics – one that looks beautiful and has an attractive font. If those motivating factors are not present, however, fiction readers are not likely to express dissatisfaction. That indicates that perhaps they are more easy-going when it comes to e-reader device expectations.

Perhaps not surprising was that both groups of readers find that aspects of publishing such as copyrighting agreements between authors and publishers are of little interest to them. As far as they are concerned the lawyers, distributors, and literary agents can squabble over that. Readers of both fiction and nonfiction just want great content, delivered in a format that they can enjoy.

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