While the proportion of Americans who read e-books is growing, few have completely replaced print books for electronic versions, according to a survey of 1,005 American adults conducted by the Pew Research Center.
However, the January 2014 survey, conducted just after the 2013 holiday gift-giving season, produced evidence that e-book reading devices are spreading through the population.
Some 42 percent of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34 percent in September. Meanwhile, the number of adults who own an e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook reader jumped from 24 percent in September to nearly one-third (32 percent) after the holidays.
Overall, half of Americans now have a dedicated handheld device–either a tablet computer such as an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook–for reading e-content. That figure has grown from 43 percent of adults who had either of those devices in September.
The percentage of adults who read an e-book in the past year has risen to 28 percent, up from 23 percent at the end of 2012. At the same time, about seven in 10 Americans reported reading a book in print, up four percentage points after a slight dip in 2012, and 14 percent of adults listened to an audiobook.
Most people who read e-books also read print books, and just 4 percent of readers are "e-book only," the report found. Audiobook listeners have the most diverse reading habits overall, while fewer print readers consume books in other formats.
The survey also indicated e-book readers who own tablets or e-readers are very likely to read e-books on those devices—but those who own computers or cellphones sometimes turn to those platforms, too.
Overall, just more than three-quarters (76 percent) of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months. The typical American adult read or listened to five books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12 books. Neither the mean nor median number of books read has changed significantly over the past few years, the report noted.
As tablet and e-reader ownership levels have risen over the past few years, these devices have become more prominent in the e-reading landscape. The same holds true for smartphones, which are increasingly offering screens of 5-inches or larger. However, e-reading activities on traditional computers has declined from 2011 to 2014.
In addition, the survey found that 92 percent of adults have a cell phone (including the 55 percent of adults who have a smartphone), and 75 percent have a notebook or desktop computer--figures that have not changed significantly from pre-holiday surveys.