From March 7 through 13, dozens of international e-book sellers and publishers offered free e-books as part of Read an E-Book Week, an annual event promoting the advantages of reading electronically. According to event founder Rita Y. Toews, participation nearly doubled from 2009, and the proportion of smartphone users contined to grow.
The Read an E-Book website, which serves as the online hub for event participants, had more than 60,000 page hits during the 2010 event and the days leading up to it - up from 30,500 in 2009. Participants came from 137 countries and spoke 74 languages. In addition to the e-book store, a review of the PocketBook e-reader and an article on the benefits of e-books were among heavily visited pages to the site, which also serves as a year-round e-reading resource.
In 2009, the most popular promotion, with 33,000 visitors, was a catalog of titles from e-reader iPhone app Stanza. According to Toews, the proportion of smartphone users - both Android and iPhone - continued to grow in 2010. "I think the e-book reading apps, Aldiko for Android and QBook for iPhone, had a lot to do with that increase."
Next year, Toews is looking to enlist major publishers to take part in the event.
"Since most of the major book publishers offer e-book versions of their print books, I would like to see more involvement from them next year. Participation doesn't have to be giving away a free e-book. Public reading events using all manner of devices for reading e-books would be one option, or a reading challenge through their book clubs."
The annual Read an E-Book Week was created in 2003 to promote the advantages of reading electronically. The event's popularity surged in 2009, as e-reading began to enter the mainstream. Toews's Read an E-Book Week website is a year-round effort, providing an array of information about e-books and e-readers.