Neologism/Blend: n. A mobile electronic device used primarily for reading books in a digital format. The “e” stands for electronic. Common brands include the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook; Sony also makes one. Typically, they can hold hundreds of books in electronic form, and some even operate more like an iPad, with the ability to have movies and games on the device. They usually track your progress in a book, and, like most electronic things, need to be charged on a somewhat regular basis.

Etymology: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term e-reader was first used in the English language in 1999 and was formed within English by compounding. The prefix e- was formed within English by conversion, and was first used in 1990. It serves to denote something that is electronic, often to distinguish something from a non-electronic version of it. The word reader, means a person who reads written matter, and was first used in English in the late 1300s; it in turn was derived from the word read, which was first used in English around the 1400s and is originally a German word, and the suffix -er, which is also Germanic in origin.

Sociolectal Information: This word is used by a wide variety of people. Both students and professors on the campus of William and Mary own, or are familiar with the concept of an e-reader. Some people believe that they might eventually replace paper copies of books altogether. They have become increasingly popular to use as the technology behind them has improved, and due to the fact that they are a convenient way to “carry” a lot of different books with you at one time, without the hassle of how much hardcover books weigh.

Survival Predictions: I am not sure that this word will survive. Although I think that the devices themselves will certainly live on (although they may never replace print books) due to their convenience and an increasing reliance on technology, the word itself sounds a bit clunky and formal. I think that instead, people will use the brand names of the devices such as Kindle or Nook. These names are simpler, and more descriptive about the actual e-reader and its specific function. However, the manufacturers of these devices might continue to use the term-reader to refer to and describe their product. As far as most people go though, I think that they will just use Kindle or Nook.

Lexopinions: I personally never use the term e-reader when I am referring to my own device. It sounds too wordy and technical. In addition, I think of it almost as tech jargon, and prefer to use just the term Kindle. It is simpler, and somehow sounds less pretentious. I also think of it as more socially acceptable to use the term Kindle or Nook as I have never heard someone use the term e-reader.






  1. clbiesecker says:

    I really like that you chose this word- it’s definitely surrounded by a common debate that has a lot of arguments. Quick question about the word- would you call it a partial initialism or something? Since the “e” at the beginning stands for another word alone, I would think that it’s not in fact a blend, just a hyphenated word with the first word being initialized. I’m not entirely sure about that though. I think you could go more into detail about the negative sides of e-readers- children who are attached to screens, people exposed to too much blue backlighting, they can hurt people’s eyes, and them hurting bookstore prospects. This is an article discussing how people retain less information reading on e-readers: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/19/readers-absorb-less-kindles-paper-study-plot-ereader-digitisation
    I bet you could find something written by an angry old fart about e-readers ruining the English language (just as a fun comparison). They might argue that having a library and collection of books is something that becomes lost in owning an e-reader. In addition, you might want to include more on people who strongly enjoy e-readers. I found your video really interesting- I didn’t realize that e-readers keep track of the percentage left in a book. I can definitely see that getting frustrating and a point of obsession. Perhaps you could also include a video of someone who reads on an e-reader more than regular books and prefers that? Maybe you could question whether the next generation of technology babies who play games on iPads are more likely to learn to read on a device than a physical book; education is increasingly coming from screens. Is there any research showing that kids learn to read faster or better on e-readers or iPads faster than physical books? Overall, I really liked that your post made me think more deeply about how e-readers affect society as a whole and not just the individual’s ability to read. Nice job!

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