Desktop and laptop computers were the preferred way for the public to read e-books through the first seven months of 2009, but their market share has been giving way to a host of new devices, according to the latest research from Bowker's PubTrack Consumer service.

Of e-book downloads through July, 40% were made to computers, down from 48% at the end of the first quarter. Quickly gaining in market share over the summer were downloads to the Kindle. This was especially true in July, when downloads to computers plunged, while downloads to the Kindle soared. As a result, in July, for the first time in PubTrack's monthly survey of consumers, Kindle downloads topped computers, accounting for 45% of all e-book downloads in the month. Also enjoying a spike in July were downloads to the iPhone, likely due to the release of the new 3G iPhone and accompanying e-book apps. That July spurt in iPhone downloads came after a lull in the spring and brought the iPhone's market share at the end of July close to where it was in the first quarter. And while Sony created a lot of buzz last week with the announcement of its new wireless device (see p. 6), it has lots of ground to cover before it catches the Kindle, holding only a 6% market share at the end of July.

Kindle and Sony Reader users do share a few characteristics; they tend to be older than readers of e-books on all other devices and more affluent as well.

On the question of price, PubTrack found consumers paying an average price of $9.08 for e-books in the first six months of the year, compared to $11.70 for books in all formats (print and digital, new and used).