The launch of the iPad and price cuts to the Kindle resulted in a significant increase in the number of digital reading devices owned by consumers between June and November, with 21% of book shoppers now owning a dedicated e-reader or tablet. The finding is part of the Codex Group's most recent national book shopper survey, which polled 6,250 book buyers on various aspects of their book-buying habits. Codex estimated that the introduction of the $139 Kindle in July helped to spur sales of 800,000 units between June and mid-November, with total units sold estimated at 2.7 million. The growth in Kindle unit sales drove overall e-reader penetration among book shoppers to 14% in November, and penetration levels could reach 22% by mid-2011, Codex predicted. The forecast is based on a dramatic increase in the number of book buyers stating they plan to buy a digital reading device this year.
Beyond the immediate growth in reading devices, Codex's president, Peter Hildick-Smith, expects the trend to continue even further with 26% of adult book buyers already reading digital books; an additional 34% of adult book buyers are willing to try digital books, meaning the number of adult digital readers could reach 60% of all adult book readers. Only 14% of print book readers said they would never read a book in digital format.
The lower price of Kindles not only spurred sales, but also altered the demographic composition of Kindle buyers, bringing the average age down. Early Kindle adopters tended to be older readers with more disposable income, Hildick-Smith said. With the price cuts, the greatest percentage of Kindle users in November was in the 65-year-and-older group (9.6%), and the 35-to-44-year-old bracket (8.5% of readers owned a Kindle). In June, before the Kindle 3 launch, the heaviest concentration was in the 55-to-64-year-old bracket, at 6.7%. The demographics of iPad owners among book buyers held steady between July and November. Codex estimated that 8.9% of book readers in the 35-to-44-year-old group owned an iPad in November, with the second highest level of concentration in the 55-to-64-year-old group at 6.0%. In July, those figures were 3.5% for the 35-to-44-year-old bracket and 2.1% for the 55-to-64-year-old group. Hildick-Smith attributed the strong showing in the 35–44 group to parents eager to entertain their children and hopefully get them in the reading habit.
Overall, Codex estimated that 7% of adult book buyers owned a tablet in November, a percentage expected to increase to 14% by next summer, putting the total penetration of tablets and dedicated e-readers at 36% of adult readers by next summer. (The vast majority of tablets are iPads, with a 6% penetration of book buyers in November, a percentage expected to double to 12% in mid-2011.
Given the increasing demand for digital readers of all kinds, Hildick-Smith said the coming holiday season could be a watershed period for digital device manufacturers and publishing overall.