Friday, February 13, 2009

A different kind of book survey

Charles, reporting in.

I found Rick’s electronic reader survey fascinating, and it reminded me of an earlier survey conducted in 1455 by Ernst Wolfgang Dieter Joachim von Benoit, a distant ancestor and next-door neighbor of Johannes Gutenberg. Other than translating it from German and modernizing the spellings, I have made no changes to this early example of user sampling.
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Mainz, 1455. A Tuesday

The following are the results of my survey on the popularity and usability of, and the future prospects for, the “Printed Book”.

Question 1: Have you read a Printed Book?

Of the 50 people who responded, 12 had read a printed book, 15 had not, 10 recalled having seen a book, 11 had previously heard the word book, and 2 refused to answer, one because he disagreed with the premise and methodology of my research and one because he said I was a witch.

Question 2: If you can read, how many books a year do you read?
47% of the respondents said they read 1-5 books a year, 21% said the read 6-10 books a year, 18% said they read 10-15 books a year, and 14% said they read them all.

Question 3: Will you be buying a Printed Book?
67% said yeas, 21% said no, and 12% said they would wait for the play.

Question 4: Other than Bibles, what kind of Printed Books would you buy?
53% said Bibles, 23% said Almanacs or similar books of divination, 14% said pornography, and 10% would like something with a cat in it.

Question 5: What factors made you decide not to buy a Printed Book?

5% said poor quality cover art and/or illuminations, 7% said negative reviews posted on trees, 9% said papal decrees, and 79% cited the inability to read.

Conclusions
Although they are popular with a few early adapters, Printed Books have failed to catch on with the public at large and, like readers in general, will remain a harmless curiosity.

4 comments:

Vicki Delany said...

I posted a comment earlier and it didn't show up. Here I am again. Let us not forget inventions that failed to make much of an impact. Remember tourist trips to the moon; flying cars; housecleaning robots

Susan D said...

And after about 70 years of being featured in futuristic movies, videophones have only just lately made it into reality.

Nice survey, Charles.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Wait! Housecleaning robots? I want one of those.

Rick Blechta said...

I pulled out a milk crate of old LPs this week, lugged it up from the basement and heaved it onto the dining room table.

As I rubbed my aching back, one of my wife's 14-year-old students was just arriving. She seemed very interested in my crate. Peering in, she asked how many albums it contained.

I counted. There were 55.

"How many songs is that?" she asked.

I did a rough calculation based on 12 songs per LP. "660."

She took her tiny little iPod out of her coat pocket and smiled. "1000 on here and I still have room!"

You know that I asked her a question. She asked for and got a Sony reader for Christmas...