Book sellers and writers rejoice! E-readers and tablets have readers reading far more—not to mention feeling excited to say so—according to an April 4 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Holiday sales of these devices caused their market shares to nearly double between just mid-December 2011 and early January 2012, the research institute revealed in a separate report released Jan. 23. For this reason, Pew doubled back on some of the questions it began pursuing in November for this latest report about the public’s reading habits, their consumption of print books and ebooks and their attitudes about the changing ways books are made available.
In November, Pew found 17 percent of American adults had read an ebook. In February, that figure jumped to 21 percent.
“Those who have taken the plunge into reading ebooks,” Pew reports, “stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers.”
This novel group tends to be avid readers of books in all formats; 88 percent of those who read ebooks had also read printed books in the last year. They read for a variety of reasons, and they’re more likely to buy their books, rather than borrow them. Plus, they just read a whole lot more books.
“Some 78 percent of those ages 16 and older say they read a book in the past 12 months. Those readers report they have read an average [or mean number] of 17 books in the past year and eight books as a median (midpoint) number,” says the report.
“Those who read ebooks report they have read more books in all formats. They reported an average of 24 books in the previous 12 months and had a median of 13 books,” according to the Pew report. “Those who do not read ebooks say they averaged 15 books in the previous year and the median was six books.”
Interestingly, Pew researchers added, “There were not major differences between tablet owners and non-owners when it came to the volume of books they say they had read in the last year.”
Still, 41 percent of tablet owners said they read more “since the advent of e-content,” and 35 percent of e-reader owners said the same.
And whether they owned a tablet or an e-reader, both groups said they’re reading more now. In fact, the longer they’ve owned their device, the more likely they were to say they’re reading more now. Among those who’ve had their device for less than six months, 35 percent said they’re reading more, versus 41 percent of those who’ve owned either device for more than a year.
Men who own e-reading devices were “particularly likely” to say they’re reading more.
Ebooks are also finding readers, Pew found, in those without the latter-two devices. It found 29 percent of readers of ebooks to be consuming them on their mobile phones and 42 percent to be reading on their computers.
In summary, the most likely readers of ebooks are those under 50-years-old, with some college education and living in households earning more than $50,000.
As for the holdouts, those people without either a tablet or an e-reader? They said they didn’t want or need one; they couldn’t afford one; they have enough digital stuff already; or, simply, that they prefer printed books.