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."
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.
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]