The results of a recent survey from The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project show that e-book consumers are reading over a third more books than their print-only customers. According to “The Rise of E-Reading,” released yesterday, the average reader of e-books says he or she has read 24 books in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by non-e-book consumers. For device owners, those who own dedicated e-book readers (such as the original Kindle or Nook) also stood out, having read an average of 24 books in the previous year vs. 16 books by those who do not own dedicated e-readers.
The number of American adults who say they have read an e-book also rose to 21%, compared to 17% reported in December, 2011. The jump comes following a holiday season that saw a spike in the ownership of both tablet computers and dedicated e-readers. Notably, while device ownership is surging, e-book consumption is still occurring on a range of screens. Of those who said they have read an e-book in the last 12 months, 42% said they have read an e-book on a computer; 41% on a dedicated e-book reader; 29% have read on their cell phone; and 23% on their tablet.
Meanwhile, print is still very much in the mix—some 88% of those who read an e-book in the past year also reported reading a printed book, and overall, in the past year, 72% of adults reported reading a print book, compared to the 21% who say they read an e-book (or 11% who listened to an audiobook). In “head-to-head competition,” respondents said they preferred e-books to print books when they want “speedy access and portability,” but preferred print for “reading to children” and sharing books with others—understandable since most e-book platforms do not allow for sharing. Although library e-books were not specifically addressed in the report, the survey did find that e-book consumers were more likely to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it—also understandable given the current state of e-book lending in public libraries. E-book consumers also say they are more likely to start their search for books online.
“Every institution connected to the creation of knowledge and storytelling is experiencing a revolution,” noted Lee Rainie of the Pew Internet Project, one of the authors of the study, in a statement. “It’s now clear that readers are embracing a new format for books and a significant number are reading more because books can be plucked out of the air.”
Among the surveys’ other major findings:
- Of the 43% of Americans who consumed e-books in the last year (or have read other long-form content on a digital device) 23% reported difficulty in finding the content they wanted.
- Overall, owners of e-reading devices are more likely than all Americans 16 and older to get book recommendations from people they knew (81% vs. 64%) and bookstore staff (31% vs. 23%). In addition, compared with the general public, owners of e-reading devices who use the internet are also more likely to get recommendations from online bookstores or other websites (56% vs. 34%).
- Amazon’s Kindle Fire, grew in market share from 5% of the market in mid-December to 14% of the tablet market in mid-January. Still, Apple’s iPad continues to dominate the market, with a 61% share, as of February 2012.
- Among those who do not own tablet computers or e-book reading devices, the main reasons people say they do not own the devices are: 1) they don’t need or want one, 2) they can’t afford one, 3) they have enough digital devices already, or 4) they prefer printed books.
The research comes from three “waves” of surveys: The first was a nationally-representative survey of 2,986 people ages 16 and older between November 16 and December 21, 2011. The overall survey has a margin of error of ± 2 percentage points. After that, a modest number of questions about tablets and e-book readers were asked in two surveys conducted in January, with a margin of error of ± 2.4 percentage points; and the final survey, on tablets and e-books in a survey, fielded from January 20-February 19, 2012, with a margin of error of ± 2 percentage points.