E-Reader Ownership Doubles, Surges Ahead Of Tablet Adoption

tablet readers

E-reader ownership among U.S. adults has surged in the last six months, doubling from 6% to 12%, according to a survey released today by the Pew Research Center. That remarkable rate of adoption surpasses even tablets, which are owned by just 8% of adults 18 and older.

That's great news for Amazon and Barnes & Noble, whose e-readers, the Kindle and Nook, are flying off shelves (e-shelves, rather). But it might also come as a surprise to consumers inundated with ads for the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Motorola Xoom that e-readers are outpacing tablets.

"Tablet computers…have not seen the same level of growth in recent months," writes Pew's Kristen Purcell. "In May 2011, 8% of adults report owning a tablet computer…This is roughly the same percentage of adults who reported owning this kind of device in January 2011 (7%), and represents just a 3 percentage-point increase in ownership since November 2010. Prior to that, tablet ownership had been climbing relatively quickly."

e-reader growth chart

What's more, it appears e-readers outweigh the need to own a tablet. As e-readers such as the Nook Color become more and more sophisticated, many have wondered whether there's room for both devices in the marketplace. In other words, if we can read e-books on an iPad, and surf the web on a Nook Color, is there a need to own both devices? According to Pew's survey, just 3% of adults own both an e-reader and a tablet. About 5% own a tablet but not a reader—roughly half of the number of adults who own an e-reader but not a tablet.

e-reader pie chart

Still, while e-reader and tablet sales have certainly rocketed, it's important not to forget how early it is in both markets. Adoption rates for e-readers and tablets trail very far behind other more established devices, such as cellphones, laptops and desktops, MP3 players, and DVRs.

Yet all we hear about today are tablets and e-readers. For that, I blame Amazon and Apple.

[Image: Flickr user Ed Yourdon]

Read More: Barnes & Noble Beats Amazon To The Android App Punch, But Kindle Will Likely Prevail

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  • Marketing Mike

    Why do you think this is, when so many others rave about being completely dependent on their tablet? Is it because the iPad and other tablets are too fussy and busy? Do adults prefer the simplicity and succinctness of a Kindle or Nook? I personally returned my Kindle in place of an iPad because I found the latter more fluid and streamlined.  But maybe that's just Marketing Mike (www.brink.com)...