Survey: Those With E-book Readers Read 40% More Than Physical Book Readers

The numbers are in: E-book readers might be the best thing to happen to reading in this country since Levar Burton.

Kindle with books


The Wall Street Journal consolidated a few different studies on e-book readers, giving further credence to what I posited in my Kindle review: E-book readers encourage reading.

The most informative survey was conducted recently by Marketing and Research Resources, Inc.–but paid for by Sony, a pioneer of e-book readers and a company with a considerable stake in the results. Luckily, the results aren’t Sony-skewed–it looked at 1,200 e-book reader owners, including those who own the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, and Sony Reader.

The survey found that 40% of e-book reader owners say they read more than they did prior to the purchase of the e-book reader. 55% say they read the same amount, and only 2% say they read less. Amazon has said that Kindle owners purchase 3.3 times as many books as they did before the purchase of the Kindle, and e-book sales have risen along with sales of the Kindle (and other e-book readers). That allows authors like Seth Godin to go digital-only–there are still lots of readers out there in the digital world.

A survey from the Book Industry Study Group found an interesting gender reversal as well. Though women make up the majority of physical book purchases, 52% of e-book purchases are made by men. It’s suggested that this is due to the early adopter gender spread: Men tend to be early adopters of tech more than women, and by some accounts, e-book readers still qualify as early products.

Anecdotally, I agree wholeheartedly with the findings. I’ve bought two books in the last week (the new Gary Shteyngart is quite good!) for my Kindle, though had I not owned the e-book reader, I’d likely have gotten it from the library or possibly just watched Top Chef instead. E-book readers, in whatever form they take, are good for the industry even as a fledgling medium.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law.