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Ebook readers decline in popularity

  • Published on November 2, 2015
Ebook readers decline in popularity

The popularity of dedicated ebook readers has declined dramatically in popularity over the past 18 months, providing useful demographics information for book publishers that use InDesign to create eBooks. In 2014 nearly one third of adults indicated that they owned a dedicated ebook reader, but by late 2015 this number has dropped to 19% according to new data released by the nonprofit Pew Research Center. There are also stark contrasts in ereader ownership based upon age, household income, and level of education.

While the ownership of eBook readers has dropped as a hole, women remain more likely than men to own a dedicated ereader, with 22% of women reporting to own such a device, and only 15% of men. Among all age categories, 19% of those in all age groups over 30 own a dedicated ebook reader, while 18% of those under the age of 30 own one.

Those who have completed college or have higher levels of income are most likely to own a dedicated ebook reader. One-quarter of those who have completed college, and 27% of those with a household income of $75,000 or more annually own an ebook reader. This compares with ownership levels of only 13% for those who have completed high school and between 14% and 16% for those with household incomes of under $50,000 annually.

Tablets likely replacing dedicated eBook readers

While tablet ownership has grown dramatically in the past five years, increasing from four percent in 2010 to 45% in 2015, the year-to-year growth rate appears to be slowing, with only a three percent increase between 2014 and 2015.

With tablet variations available for Amazon’s Kindle as well as Barnes & Noble’s Nook devices, the e-reading manufacturers appear somewhat responsible for accelerating a trend of moving away from dedicated ebook readers and towards multi-use tablets.

Impact of ereader trends on publishers

Publishers that are creating eBooks will increasing see readers with devices that are capable of displaying more than text on a page. Publishers that learn InDesign capabilities for adding multimedia and interactivity will be able to take advantage of enhanced eBooks on more capable tablets, redefining what it means to read a book in a digital format. The decline in dedicated ebook device ownership doesn’t indicate that ebooks are being read any less, rather it shows the importance of devices such as the iPad and Galaxy tablets that offer reading in addition to many other capabilities.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.