Pew Profiles Rise of E-Reading


Around the holidays a flurry of news stories reported surging e-reader sales. Consumers are enjoying a greater variety of devices to choose from, and more competitive prices, too. So how have these sales influenced our reading habits? This and other questions are the focus of the new Pew Internet and American Life Project study, “The rise of e-reading.”

Key findings of the study include:

Growing Numbers Read E-books. According to Pew’s survey, 21% of Americans have read an e-book -- from 17% just prior to this past holiday season.  The increase corresponds with the rise in e-book ownership spurred by holiday gift giving. For example, ownership of Kindle and Nook jumped from 10% in December to 19% in January, with tablet computers, such as iPads, showing comparable growth.  

E-Reader Users Consume More Books. Owners of e-books read an average of 24 books over a 12-month period, compared with an average of 15 books consumed by those who do not use e-readers. Interestingly, e-book owners were also more likely to read books across a variety of formats, not just digitally.

Print is Still Prevalent. Pew found that in December 2011, 72% of American adults reported reading a print book – while only 11% listened to an audio book and 17% had read an e-book.

Convenience and Cross-Platform Reading. Survey respondents favored e-readers over print material when considering convenience and portability. E-book reading, however, is not limited to e-readers alone: 42% of those who read digital books over the 12-month period used a computer. 41% used a traditional e-reader, 23% used a tablet computerm, and 29% read e-books on their mobile phones.

As e-reading devices proliferate, the convenience of this option – which is clearly encouraging more prolific reading – will continue to bring education and entertainment to consumers. 


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