I spent the weekend stalking the elderly and assessing their book-buying habits. What did you do?
Okay, so, I wasn’t stalking them, per se—actually, I was just sitting in a lawn chair, helping out at my sister’s garage sale. It wasn’t my fault that the older, more mature women tended to gravitate toward the huge box of paperbacks near me. I hadn’t gone out of my way to eavesdrop on their conversation.
|Image by Eastlaketimes
WOMAN #1: I know I shouldn’t be buying these. I hardly have the space at home for them, but they’re such a good deal.
WOMAN #2: Have you ever seen one of those electronic books?
WOMAN #1: Yeah, my son got me one for Christmas, but I can’t figure out how to use it. I’m sure it’s pretty handy, once you get used to it.
WOMAN #2: What I just can’t figure out is why their prices are lower than regular books.
(This is the point where my significantly less stealthy sister interjects, explaining how e-books work and where to purchase them. I continue to pretend I’m counting change.)
As if that wasn’t already a wealth of demographical information, I heard two similar conversations later that morning. What does that mean? Well, it seems like the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers are wading into the ongoing e-book revolution—and not just in the cold, black-and-white of nationwide studies anymore. These people are your parents, your grandparents, your neighbors, and your friends. Most of them haven't fully adapted to the technology yet, but they’re definitely getting curious.
I’ve read that, by 2012, America's 50 and older population could reach 100 million. If you’re lucky enough to have these distinguished readers in your target market, it might be time to consider their changing needs. Imagine, for example, a lovely older woman on a fixed income. She might prefer to read the less expensive, large print edition of your book on her new e-reader. Guess what? That's not going to happen if she doesn’t know how to access it.
Maybe it’s time to look into ways of better educating our potential readers. We can’t assume everyone knows where and how to buy the electronic forms of our books. What can we, as writers, do? Add (non-condescending) step-by-step instructions to our websites? Our newsletters? What do you guys think?