E-reader ownership is outpacing that of tablets, according to a new survey. That contrasts other reports suggesting tablets will overcome e-readers in the long term.
Kindle and Nook fans, take heart: According
to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life
Project, the percentage of U.S. adults with an e-reader grew from 6 percent to
12 percent between November 2010 and May.
At the same time, the survey (of 2,277
adults aged 18 and over) suggested that some 8 percent of adults owned a tablet
PC in May, a three-point increase from November 2010. Out of all adults
surveyed, 3 percent owned both an e-reader and a tablet.
"This is the first time since the Pew
Internet Project began measuring e-reader use in April 2009 that ownership of
this device has reached double digits among U.S. adults," read a June 27
research note accompanying the data. However, "tablet computers-portable
devices similar to e-readers but designed for more interactive web
functions-have not seen the same level of growth in recent months."
Whether tablets and e-readers are
direct competitors is a matter of debate. Tablets certainly offer e-reading
software, often though the same companies that also build e-readers. However,
e-reader defenders often argue that devices such as the Kindle and Nook offer a
superior reading experience, particularly for long periods of time and in
bright sunlight, as well as longer battery life. Declining e-reader prices have
likewise helped spark adoption in recent quarters.
A recent In-Stat survey of 1,000 U.S.
respondents found that some 38 percent owned a tablet, versus 26 percent with
an e-reader. The research firm went on to estimate that global e-reader
shipments will hit 40 million by 2015, only to be outpaced by tablets.
"Of the two, the tablet market is the stronger
and more sustainable opportunity," Stephanie Ethier, an In-Stat senior analyst,
wrote in a June 20 research note. "In fact, e-reader manufacturers will soon
begin adding tablet-like devices to their lineups in order to take advantage of
the tablet frenzy. Barnes & Noble already offers the Color Nook, which is
often compared with a tablet, and Amazon, the leader in the e-reader space with
its Kindle, will likely launch a tablet device later this year in an effort to
compete with the iPad."
Meanwhile, there are indications that
e-readers are having a negative effect on the traditional book-publishing
industry. "The book publishing industry has entered a period of long-term
decline because of the rising sales of e-book readers," read an April 28
research note from IHS iSuppli, which predicted a decrease in book revenue at a
compound annual rate of 3 percent through 2014-a reversal from the period
between 2005 and 2010, when revenue rose.
"The [publishing] industry has entered
a phase of disruption that will be as significant as the major changes
impacting the music and movie business," Steve Mather, IHS iSuppli's principal
analyst for wireless, wrote in an April 28 statement.
Rising e-reader ownership could fuel
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.