It's hard to believe the Kindle was only launched in the UK in 2010, so common is the sight of several fellow passengers on any given train or bus utterly absorbed in the muted glow of the e-reader.
But five years it has been since the launch of the Kindle UK store on Amazon, growing from a library of 400,000 titles to one rapidly approaching 4 million, and the appetite for digital books has had an undeniable impact on the literary world - whether enabling some authors to find success through self-publishing after countless agent rejections, or allowing others to take advantage of the huge pool of readers fond of reading racy material without a front cover telling tales.
Now Amazon have released some interesting figures on our reading habits in celebration of the Kindle's fifth birthday, including which parts of Britain are big into thrillers, which town has the most voracious readers and the UK's favourite authors.
Somewhat predictably, the Fifty Shades of Grey series is a big winner, with its huge digital readership propelling it to first, second and fourth in the list of top-selling novels, and its author EL James topping the best-selling author category.
Yorkshire was dubbed “romance capital of the north”, with Kindle readers in Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster and Bradford downloading more romance than any other genre.
Meanwhile, Cambridge beat rival university city Oxford to be named the home of heavy reading, devouring the most society, politics and philosophy books. Scotland revealed a taste for crime, with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen creating the most concentrated area of readers of crime, thrillers and mystery in the UK. Dunfermline reads the most in Scotland, while Doncaster leads the north, Newtownards tops Belfast in Ireland and the population of Wrexham read the most in Wales.
The independent lists reveal the success of self-publishers, with Rachel Abbott the most popular independent author in the UK store. She's sold over one million books worldwide and not only tops the independent list, but ranks 14th overall - impressive for a woman expecting a life of quiet retirement just a few years ago.
Her first book, Only the Innocent, reached number one on the Kindle Best Seller chart in February 2012, and subsequent novels have appeared on Amazon's bestseller list ever since.
Abbott, 62, said of her success: “Since the day I published my first book to Kindle, my feet haven’t touched the ground. In 2010 I had retired and I thought the future was going to be one of relaxation, except that I wanted to write a book for my own pleasure. One day I decided to publish it to see what might happen, and that decision was life-changing.
“I’m now writing my fifth novel, have sold well over a million copies of the first four, and have a new full-time career as an author. Nobody, least of all me, could have seen that coming - but I’m loving every minute of it.”
Read on for the full Kindle bestseller charts.
TOP-SELLING KINDLE BOOKS IN THE UK
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
2. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
4. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James
5. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
6. Life Of Pi by Yann Martel
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
8. Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti
9. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
10. Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd
MOST WELL-READ TOWN/CITY OVERALL
(based on titles bought per capita)
9. Newton Abbot
TOP-SELLING INDEPENDENT BOOKS IN THE UK
1. Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott (#43 overall)
2. Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott (#55 overall)
3. No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday by Tracy Bloom (#59 overall)
4. The Half-Life Of Hannah by Nick Alexander (#66 overall)
5. Love... From Both Sides by Nick Spalding (#74 overall)
6. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson (#86 overall)
7. The Back Road by Rachel Abbott (#89 overall)
8. The Basement by Stephen Leather (#110 overall)
9. The Magpies by Mark Edwards (#113 overall)
10. Single Woman Seeks Revenge by Tracy Bloom (#137 overall)
TOP-SELLING AUTHORS IN THE UK
1. EL James
2. Lee Child
3. Stieg Larsson
4. Suzanne Collins
5. George RR Martin
6. Gillian Flynn
7. Diane Chamberlain
8. James Patterson
9. Peter James
10. Sylvia Day
Words: Amy Swales / Images: Rex Features, rachel-abbott.com