E-Book Popularity On The Rise
April 6, 2012

E-Book Popularity On The Rise

According to new research from Pew Internet & American Life Project, e-books are becoming more popular among Americans.

Pew found that 31 percent of adults surveyed in a February survey said they had read an e-book in the last year, compared to 17 percent who reported doing so in December.

The research firm said that this was in line with a major spike in the ownership of e-reader devices or tablets during the holiday season.

Those who read e-books read more books than those who do not have the devices, according to Pew.  In the past 12 months, the average reader of e-books has read 24 books, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.

Printed books are still the main form of reading, despite the growth in the electronic book industry in the past few years.

Pew found in a December 2011 survey that 72 percent of American adults said they had read a printed book in the previous year.  This same survey found that 11 percent of adults listened to an audio book in the previous year.

The survey found that about 43 percent of Americans age 16 and older said they have read either an e-book in the past year, or have read another long-form content like magazines or news articles in digital format.

Those who are e-book readers have not ditched paper books altogether.  The survey found that 88 percent of e-book readers have also read printed books in the past 12 months.

E-book readers are also more likely to have bought the book they are reading rather than have borrowed it, and are more likely to say they prefer to purchase books.

About 41 percent of tablet owners and 35 percent of owners of e-reading devices said they are reading more since they have bought the device.

Also, longevity of ownership of the new electronic device plays a role in whether someone is more likely to be reading e-books.  Pew found that 41 percent of those who have owned a tablet or e-reader for over a year say they are reading more, versus 35 percent who have owned either device for less than six months.

A tablet or e-reader is not the only popular form of reading electronic books.  The survey found that 29 percent of e-book readers view their books on their smartphones, while 42 percent said they read theirs on a computer.

Reading in bed is now more popular to do with an e-book reader or tablet than a printed book, as 45 percent prefer e-books and 43 percent prefer print.

Also, bringing a printed book on vacation or to work is becoming old fashion, as 73 percent of those who read books while traveling or commuting say they prefer e-books.

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet computer, which was introduced in late 2011, grew in market share from 5 percent in mid-December last year to 14 percent of the tablet market in mid-January.

Pew said the main reason people do not own tablet computers or e-book reading devices is because they say they don't need one or want one.  Other reasons include: they can't afford one; they have enough digital devices already; or they prefer printed books.

Pew surveyed 2,986 Americans ages 16 and old for the survey from November 2011 to February 2012.