The spring release of the iPad had an immediate impact on the ebook device market. According to the third and final report of the Book Industry Study Group–sponsored study Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading, 7% of consumers who read e-books chose the iPad as one of the devices they use to read. The 7% response rate puts the iPad close to the Nook, Sony Reader, iPhone, and iPod Touch in terms of popularity. Combined, the Apple family of reading devices had a 28% response rate, a total that puts Apple behind only the Kindle and computers as the top choice of devices for e-book reading.
In the third survey, the Kindle overtook computers as the most popular device for reading e-books with a one percentage point advantage, at 40%. Computers, however, still held an edge over the Kindle as the single device readers still use most frequently to read e-books, by a margin of 37% to 32%.
The study, conducted only three weeks after the iPad's April release, also found the introduction of the iPad has had an impact on what readers are using devices for. Access to online newspapers and magazines had been seen as the lowest benefit of e-readers, but in the final survey, reading other content had a significant increase.
In presenting the findings at a panel at BEA last week, Kelly Gallagher, head of Bowker's consumer research division, which conducted the survey, said affordability was the top reason consumers bought e-books in each of the three reports (the first survey was conducted in December 2009). All three reports also showed signs that ebook purchases are cannibalizing sales of print books among consumers who read e-books, although the rate of cannibalization seems to be slowing somewhat. The percentage of e-book users who said they now only purchase e-books was 24% in the third survey, up from 23% at the end of the second survey. And the percentage of e-book users who said they mostly buy e-books and buy fewer hardcovers fell to 25%, from 27%. Still, just about half of e-book users reported buying no print books or fewer print books since they started using e-books.
The number of consumers who recently bought e-book devices continues to grow, with 37% of e-reader owners saying they bought their device within the last six months. Gallagher observed that as long as the number of new people who bought e-readers remains robust, sales of e-books will continue their rapid increase.
The full report will be available from BISG in July.