US eReader ownership triples in two years

eReader adoption still growing, despite headwinds from iPads and tablet computers.

iPads and tablet computers are getting all the hype and glory these days, but simpler eReaders appear to be making significant headway as an electronic device of choice.

GfK MRI just released survey data that shows approximately 5.9 million US adults own an eReader --up from 2.1 million owners in early 2009, when GfK MRI first began asking consumers about their usage of devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader.

eReaders are also a global phenomenon. In a recent post, we discussed the rise of eReaders in Russia .

What about iPads and other tablets?  Aren't they poised to crush the standalone eReader market?  Not yet, the survey finds. "While electronic tablets have created lots of buzz amid increased competition in the market, eReaders continue to be very popular items," says Anne Marie Kelly, SVP, Marketing & Strategic Planning at GfK MRI.

Gfk MRI says it is conducting separate research on consumers' ownership and use of tablet computers, such as the iPad, and expects to release its findings next spring.

To avoid confusion with electronic tablets and other devices, GfK MRI describes eReaders as "an electronic book reader is a portable, wireless reading device that allows you to download and read electronic books, magazines and newspapers.  It is not a laptop, cell phone or PDA."

The overwhelming majority of eReader owners interviewed in the 12 months ending October 31, 2010 (75%) had read a book on their device in the last six months, compared to newspapers (18%) and magazines (15%).

Currently, 55% of eReader owners have annual household incomes in excess of $100,000. GfK MRI also observes a shift in the demographics of eReader users. In the March-October 2009 survey period, 56% of eReader owners were male and 44% were women.  The most recent data show that now 49% of eReader owners are male and 51% are women.

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