e-Reader ownership is at an all time low according to Pew Research. The company released new data on device ownership and found 19% of adults reported owning an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook.This is a sizable drop from early 2014, when 32% of adults owned this type of device.
The decline in dedicated e-ink e-readers is directly proportional to the rise of smartphones and tablets. 68% of adults now have a smartphone, nearly double the share that Pew Research Center measured in its first survey on smartphone ownership in mid-2011. At that point, 35% of adults had smartphones.
Pew also found that 45% of U.S. adults own a tablet – a substantial increase since Pew Research Center began measuring tablet ownership in 2010. Then, only 4% of adults in the U.S. were tablet owners. Ownership, however, is statistically the same as it was in 2014.
There is no denying that smartphone and tablet ownership have usurped market share away from dedicated e-readers. When it comes to reading e-books though, the smartphone is reigning supreme.
The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that it is the smartphone that is our technology of choice to read e-books on a regular basis. Their premise derived from a recent Nielsen survey of 2,000 people last December. It found that 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books at least some of the time. That’s up from 24% in 2012, which is a huge gain.
Apple has seen an increase in the number of people downloading books onto iPhones through its iBooks app. Some 45% of iBooks purchases are now downloaded onto iPhones, an Apple spokeswoman said. Before that, only 28% were downloaded onto phones, with most of the remainder downloaded onto iPads and a small percentage onto computers.
An Amazon spokesman said “Among all new customers using Kindles or the Kindle app, phone readers are by far the fastest-growing segment.”
Have e-readers had their day in the sun in the US market? Pew only interviewed a few thousand people, which certainly is not indicative of a unilateral consensus.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.