By Rena Justine:
Just as the invention of the printing press in 1440 revolutionized how we accessed books and reading, the constant innovations in digital technology today are transforming how we read. Perhaps the most significant digital shift in reading habits is the rise of the ebook.
Based on data from Mordor Intelligence, the ebook market size is estimated at $17.2 billion in 2024 and is expected to go on to reach $21.73 billion by 2029. Some key factors driving the market include the continuous technical developments and improvements in reading devices and the multilingual feature of ebooks. At the same time, environmental protection campaigns from various governments to reduce paper use are crucial in boosting demand for ebooks.
By now, the discourse on reading in the digital age has started toeing the lines beyond just ebooks. With the rise of emerging technologies such as AI, multimedia storytelling, and the ever-growing internet, our reading habits have also understandably adjusted. Let's look at some of the ways the digital world is transforming how we read.
One of the critical advantages of reading digitally is that it opens access to much more material than traditional print. Ebook subscription service Everand has a rich selection of ebooks spanning a variety of genres, authors, and categories. For reading enthusiasts, this includes Pulitzer Prize winners such as Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction and more niche and genre-based readings such as Colleen Hoover or George Orwell. If you have trouble finding printed copies of certain books or don't live near a library, a digital ebook platform like Everand is as great as it can get.
Better yet, you can also find these titles in audiobook format. Readers can access these ebooks and audiobooks on various browsers and platforms—iOS or Android—and even offline. This is great for people who may want to read on the go or do not have consistent internet access.
Aside from making the joy of reading and books much more accessible to many, reading in the digital world also means more interactivity. In the case of the British Library, its Digital Storytelling exhibition from June 2023 is exactly how it sounds. The exhibition featured highly regarded commercial classics of interactive digital storytelling, boasting playable stories such as the 2014 steampunk narrative fiction game 80 Days and intimate personal narratives such as c ya laterrrr. Visitors could even access some of the pieces from their phones through conveniently placed QR codes.
As digital storytelling is fairly flexible, reading can extend beyond traditional text. Many of the complex exhibits shown by the British Library displayed videos that acted as playthroughs of the story games and physical items inspired by the separate pieces. These additional media helped transform the interactive reading experience into a more immersive and multimedia form.
Social Media Impact
Finally, it would be challenging to discuss the digital world without talking about social media—which is almost, technically, a digital world unto itself. Today, the rise of decentralized social media platforms such as Bluesky and Mastodon focus heavily on democratizing social media, prioritizing digital networks and independent servers not controlled by a single monopolizing company. These platforms center on groups and niches, allowing users to tailor their feeds to the content they want to see, from cat pics to book recommendations, instead of advertising content.
This makes the sharing of reading content and materials much more effortless, engaging, and entertaining for people and sets the stage for open discussions. At the same time, exposure to social media, according to a Computers & Education study, also helps equip us with essential digital reading skills. These include complex applications of prior knowledge sources, inferential reasoning strategies, and self-regulated reading processes.
Rena Justine is a teaching consultant who provides guidance to schools across the country. Through her online articles, she hopes to impart her 10 years of experience to help others. She spends most of her free time in the park with her husband and three children.