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One in Six Americans Now Use E-Reader with One in Six Likely to Purchase in Next Six Months

Check out the latest Harris Interactive poll. Since e-Reader users are likely to both read and purchase more books than non-users, I think it is a fair assumptin that they’re more likely to borrow books from friends and libraries. That might make them a core target for libraries. I wonder if any libraries are doing some geo-local advertising on e-book sites? It seems worth a try as a pilot or experiment.

One in Six Americans Now Use E-Reader with One in Six Likely to Purchase in Next Six Months
e-Reader users likely to both read and purchase more books than non-users

“NEW YORK, N.Y. – September 19, 2011 – The options keep changing and bookstores are starting to feel the pressure. One major chain closed its doors for good this month while some of the others have rolled out their own e-Reader devices and are upgrading them regularly. Even The New York Times has changed the way it looks at bestsellers. It used to be just fiction and non-fiction; now it’s also print versus e-Reader. And this is for a good reason as one in six Americans (15%) uses an e-Reader device up from less than one in ten (8%) a year ago. Also, among those who do not have an e-Reader, one in six (15%) say they are likely to get an e-Reader device in the next six months.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,183 adults surveyed online between July 11 and 18, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

While some may lament the introduction of the e-Reader as a death knell for books, the opposite is probably true. First, those who have e-Readers do, in fact, read more. Overall, 16% of Americans read between 11 and 20 books a year with one in five reading 21 or more books in a year (20%). But, among those who have an eReader, one-third read 11-20 books a year (32%) and over one-quarter read 21 or more books in an average year (27%).

E-Reader users are also more likely to buy books. One-third of Americans (32%) say they have not purchased any books in the past year compared to only 6% of e-Reader users who say the same. One in ten Americans purchased between 11 and 20 books (10%) or 21 or more books (9%) in the past year. Again, e-Reader users are more likely to have bought, or downloaded books, as 17% purchased between 11 and 20 and 17% purchased 21 or more books in the past year.

Change in reading habits

One of the criticisms of e-Readers is that people who have them may download more books than they would traditionally purchase, but read at the same levels. So far this criticism is not holding true at all. Half of both e-Reader users (50% and non-users (51%) say they read the same amount as they did six months ago. However, while one-quarter of non e-Reader users (24%) say they are reading less than they did before (compared to just 8% of e-Reader users), over one-third of e-Reader users (36%) say they are reading more compared to just 16% of non-users.

Favorite Genre

Regardless of how they are reading it, there are types of books people like to read. Among those who say they read at least one book in an average year, three-quarters say they read both fiction (76%) and non-fiction (76%) but certain types of books rise to the top in both categories. Among fiction categories, almost half of readers say they read mystery, thriller and crime books (47%), while one-quarter read science fiction (25%), literature (23%) and romance (23%). One in ten read graphic novels (10%) while 8% read “chick-lit” and 5% read Westerns. Among non-fiction categories, almost three in ten readers say they read biographies (29%) while one-quarter read history (27%) and religious and spirituality books (24%). Just under one in five readers (18%) read self-help books, while 13% read true crime, 12% read current affairs, 11% read political books and 10% read business books.

So what?

E-Readers are definitely here to stay and this means the publishing world needs to learn to change with the times. The printing press is considered one of the world’s greatest inventions and one of the first printed books, the Gutenberg Bible is still considered one of the rarest among bibliophiles. There will always be a place for books in hard cover or paperback. But, there must also be a place for reading devices as well. Readers are quickly catching on to this wave as have the booksellers. This is a huge transition time for publishing companies and how they adapt will determine who is still standing ten years from now.”

Follow this link to see the data in these tables:

“Do you use an electronic reader device, such as a Kindle, an iPad or a Nook, to read books?”
Base: All adults

“How likely do you think you will be to get an e-reader device within the next six months?”
Base: Adults who do not use an e-reader

“How many books do you typically read in an average year? If you are not sure, please use your best estimate.”
Base: All adults

“How many books have you purchased in the past year? If you are not sure, please use your best estimate.”
Base: All adults

“Over the past 6 months, how have your reading habits changed? Please choose the statement that best describes you.”
Base: All adults

“What types of books have you read in the past year? Please select all that apply.”
Base: Adults who read at least one book in average year


Posted on: September 27, 2011, 6:49 am Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. This could be a great case study on the accuracy of self-reported behaviours…. could easily compare this against what is selling or circulating at libraries…

    what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that these respondents are lying their pants off about the preferred genre!

    I shudder to cite a fox news source, but don’t have much time to look farther afield, so…

  2. I tend to agree. That’s why I prefer observing behaviours ethnographically rather than asking folks. We’ve got a ton of research that self-reported behaviours of everyone – including librarians – is often suspect.