Are You Phone Smart?

Do you own a smart phone? If your answer is yes, then you belong to the majority of adult Americans. Forty-five percent of all Americans own a smart phone and just about two-thirds of adults aged 18 to 49 own a smart phone.

Girl With Mobile Smart Phone

Not only are smart phones becoming commonplace for cell phone users, they are also becoming an increasingly popular way for people to access their email, the Internet, and to read ebooks.

If you produce books, what does this trend means for you? What do you need to do to not get left behind when people use their smart phones to read their emails, log on to the Internet, and read ebooks.

I believe publishers and independently published authors must do three things to ensure their material is friendly to smart phone users, and thus not lose ground in marketing with the growth of this technology.

1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

Test your website on a few smart phones. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to navigate? If you find there are problems, then you may want to either create a mobile site, use a plug in that automatically makes your website mobile friendly (for example, WordPress has a free mobile plug-in for WordPress sites at, or simply switch to a one-column webpage which is easier to navigate on a smart phone.

2. Make your email templates mobile friendly.

With the increase of reading email messages on smart phone devices, publishers need to make sure that the templates they use to send out email messages to their email lists are also mobile friendly. Again, test your templates on a few smart phones to find ones that read well on these screens.

3. Make your ebooks mobile friendly.

Almost one-third of people who read ebooks report that they read ebooks on their smart phone. Most smart phones users have ebook reader apps. These ebook reader apps do a fairly good job of rendering ebooks in a readable format on a smart phone screen. However, here again, you should test your EPUB and Mobi files to make sure that your ebooks view well on smart phones.

These three simple tests can help you make the necessary changes you need to remain effective and viable in our society’s on-going digital technology shift.

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Don’t Overlook Smart Phones

One of my daughter’s middle-school friends hates to read. Her mother says that getting her to read anything is worse than getting teeth pulled. This girl will always find shortest book she can when required to read something for school.

Recently, this middle-school girl obtained an iPod Touch. One day while browsing around the Internet, she came across an ebook that she thought she might be interested in reading. She decided to read this ebook for her next school project.

Little did she know, this book would turn out to be the longest book she ever read. You see, not having a physical copy, she did not think to look at the number of pages in the book’s description. Reading on an iPod is similar to reading on a smart phone, you only see a portion of a page at a time. This girl told me that when she got to chapter 24, she began to wonder how many chapters the book had. After going back to the Table of Contents to look, she discovered the book had a whopping 72 chapters.

Here is the good part. Not knowing that the book was so long, she began reading and got hooked on the story. Now, she is determined to complete the entire book—all via her iPod through reading in the cloud.

Recently, Bowker noticed a disparity between the number of Young Adult ebooks being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read ebooks. They decided to investigate. What Bowker found was that 55% of the buyers of Young Adult books are 18 years old or older. Those in the 30 to 44 age group reported they were purchasing the title for themselves 78% of the time.

With over half of the readers of Young Adult books being adults (taking into account both print and ebook format), what does this say about the reading of tweens/teens?

The data found in Bowker’s study combined with the recent findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project that 45% of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone and that 29% of all ebooks are read on smartphone, makes me ponder a couple of things.

  1. I fear that many young people may be like my daughter’s friend. In our age of instant gratification and fast-moving media, many youth may be turned off by the length of books, leading them to consistently choose other activities over reading. Maybe digital reading may indeed help increase the number of youth reading for pleasure.
  2. Smartphones may currently be the most common mobile e-reading device.

What does this mean for you as an author or publisher? First, be aware that if you have written or published a Young Adult book, the majority of your readers may actually be adults. Second, make sure your digital books are available for sale through Apple’s iStore and the android stores (such as Google Play) for readers to purchase and download your book onto their smartphones.

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