eBook consumers are decidedly shifting to multi-function tablets and away from dedicated eReaders, according to the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s closely watched on-going Consumer Attitudes Toward EBook Reading survey. The fourth and final instalment in Volume Three of the Bowker-powered survey shows that tablets have risen by about 25 percent over the past year as the first choice for respondents’ eReading device, while dedicated eReaders have fallen by the same amount. The rise of tablet popularity has been fuelled largely by Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which increased over the past year from no use to be the first choice for more than 17 percent of eBook consumers. Other Android devices, such as Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet, have also increased as the first choice for respondents’ eReading device, from two percent in August 2011 to nearly seven percent in August 2012, while Apple’s iPad has held steady around 10 percent.
“We’ve discovered throughout the course of this survey work that we can chart the future based on what is currently happening with eBook ‘Power Buyers.’ Their eBook purchasing and eReader preferences have proven to be reliable predictors of market trends,” said Angela Bole, BISG’s Deputy Executive Director. “Based on this, the introduction of new tablet devices by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Microsoft is likely to continue the trend of preference for tablets over dedicated eReaders through the upcoming holiday season.”
Power Buyers – those who purchase eBooks at least weekly – are rapidly increasing their preference for tablets as eReading devices. More than 38 percent indicated that tablets are their primary eReading device, compared with about 19 percent a year ago. Dedicated eReaders are preferred by less than half of Power Buyers today, compared with more than two thirds last year.
Further, tablets designed specifically for the purchase and consumption of books excel when it comes to that activity, but underperform for all others, sometimes by wide margins. Almost 60 percent of respondents who currently own Amazon’s Kindle Fire report that they read eBooks “very often,” compared with 50 percent of those who currently own an Apple iPad. The two most common activities reportedly performed “very often” by iPad owners are web browsing (60 percent) and creating or reading emails or text messages (59 percent). Kindle Fire owners report those activities at 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
BISG’s Consumer Attitudes Toward eBook Reading survey also looks at genre preferences, revealing that nonfiction genres, notably how-to guides/manuals and scientific/medical/technical titles, are generally preferred by respondents who read eBooks on desktop, laptop, or netbook computers. “This possibly suggests the need to improve eReading device capabilities for non-linear eBook content,” said Jo Henry, Global Director of Bowker Market Research.
Since November 2009, Consumer Attitudes Toward eBook Reading has been tracking the habits and preferences of print book consumers who say they have acquired an eBook or a dedicated eReading device within the past year. Volume Three is sponsored by Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, and Harlequin. In addition to quarterly PDF Summary Reports, Volume Three of Consumer Attitudes Toward eBook Reading is published as a dynamic online report via Real-Time Reporting: a unique web-based tool set displaying the raw data derived from responses — drillable, sortable with on-demand accessibility.
Data for Consumer Attitudes Toward eBook Reading was derived from a nationally (US) representative panel of book consumers (men, women, and teens). Each month a new group of more than 6,000 respondents complete surveys about their book purchasing behaviour for Bowker Market Research. Out of nearly 65,000 possible panellists, respondents were qualified for the BISG eBook survey by selecting “Digital/E book” as a binding type of a book they had acquired or indicating that they owned a dedicated eReader device (such as Kindle, NOOK, or Sony Reader) during any month in 2012. This process yielded a survey sample of more than 1,000 eBook consumers.
The survey findings are available for sale both as a PDF Summary Report and as a complete data compendium, accessible online. A substantial discount is available for BISG members. For more information, or to order a copy of Consumer Attitudes Toward eBook Reading, visit http://www.bisg.org/publications/product.php?p=19&c=437.
(ACCESS 83, December 2012)