E-reader adoption hits double digits in 2011

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.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

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?

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