iPad could be a boon to the book industry
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iPad could be a boon to the book industry

For those who think technology is killing pastimes such as reading, well, think again. In fact, the iPad as an ebook reader could actually be a boon to the book industry.

Currently, just one in 10 Americans (8%) uses an electronic reader device of some kind, according to a new Harris Poll of 2,775 adults surveyed online between Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 by Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com). But that will change -- and perhaps publishers should be glad.

Those who have eReaders do, interestingly, read more. Overall, two in five Americans (40%) read 11 or more books a year with one in five reading 21 or more books in a year (19%). But among those who have an eReader, over one-third read 11-20 books a year (36%) and over one-quarter read 21 or more books in an average year (26%).

eReader users are also more likely to buy books. One in five Americans (21%) say they have not purchased any books in the past year compared to only 8% of eReader users who say the same. Just over one in ten Americans purchased between 11 and 20 books (11%) or 21 or more books (12%) in the past year. Again, eReader users are more likely to have bought, or downloaded books, as 17% purchased between 11 and 20 and 20% purchased 21 or more books in the past year.

Among those adults who do not currently have an eReader, just over one in ten (12%) say they are likely to get one in the next six months.  However, 21% are not very likely to purchase an eReader and three in five (59%) are not at all likely. Those in the West (16%) and East (14%) are more likely to purchase an eReader in the next six months, whereas seven in ten Midwesterners (69%) say they are not at all likely to do so. Age wise, Gen Xers (those aged 34-45) are most likely to say they will purchase one in the next six months (15%).

One of the criticisms of eReaders 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. Over half of people with eReaders (53%) say they read more now than they did 6 months ago compared to 18% of non-eReader users. Over half (51%) of non-users say they read the same as they did 6 months ago compared to one-quarter (25%) of eReader users.

With eReader sales expected to continue to climb and as more devices now become available, it is inevitable that reading habits of Americans will also change. The issue is: how will they change? At the moment, it's too early to tell for sure, but the folks at Harris Interactive say their early evidence is pointing to something good: people seem to be reading more if they have an eReader which is something the publishing industry, which has been in decline over recent years, is sure to celebrate.

-- Dennis Sellers


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