E-reader adoption hits double digits in 2011

Summary:E-reader ownership among U.S. adults doubled between November 2010 and May 2011, from 6 percent adoption to 12 percent, according to a Pew study.

Slow and steady wins the race.

A new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that e-reader ownership among U.S. adults doubled between November 2010 and May 2011, from 6 percent adoption to 12 percent.

Interestingly, the study also found an increase in tablet ownership, albeit a more modest one: from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Three percent of U.S. adults said they owned both an e-reader and a tablet computer. The study's findings were based on a sampling of 2,277 adults.

More stats:

  • Adoption jumped from 5 to 15 percent in Hispanic households during the six-month period.
  • Adoption jumped from 6 to 16 percent among parents of children under 18.
  • Adoption jumped from 8 to 22 percent in households with a college graduate.
  • 24 percent of households with income over $75,000 now own an e-reader.
  • Surprisingly, men are more likely than women to own an e-reader. Ditto for tablets.

It's quite interesting to see the recent jump in the first chart above; perhaps that's indicative of the price point of e-readers becoming low enough to reach beyond the early adopters for the first time. Clearly, if device makers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble can get the retail price of a Kindle or Nook down to an event $100 -- a daunting, difficult challenge -- there's more market share to be had.

The wild card in this scenario is whether tablets have any impact at all on the e-reader market. E-Ink technology remains distinct from the glossy LCD displays of tablets, and I think the differences matter when it comes to battery life, flexibility, durability, cost and distraction -- in other words, you're more likely to read a Kindle on the beach this Fourth of July weekend than you are your iPad.

My wife, a happy first-generation iPad owner, recently caved in and bought a Kindle. There's got to be something to it. Priced appropriately, are e-readers naturally insulated from the tablet onslaught?

See also:

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Tablets


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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