eReaders Owners Could Double, But Print-Lovers Are Growing, Too

For the third consecutive year, at Digital Book World later this month, Jack McKeown from Verso Digital (and Books & Books Westhampton Beach) will present original consumer survey data and analysis on consumer habits regarding both ebooks and print books, from responses elicited from over 2,200 respondents after November's "Cyber Monday."

By their results, ereader ownership could as much as double over the next year--6.4 percent of respondents are "very likely" to purchase, and another 9.9 percent are somewhat likely, with 15.8 percent of people saying they "already own" an reader. (That ownership percentage is roughly consistent with what Bowker PubTrack's monthly survey has found.)

But perhaps most striking is that 51.8 percent of those surveyed said they are "not at all likely" to buy an ereader in the year ahead, the first time that number has been above half. As McKeown observes, "While e-reader ownership rates have increased in a dramatic fashion since our first survey in December, 2009, so too has the level of resistance. The dynamic movement highlighted in this data suggests that over time, consumers have moved out of the 'not sure' category in one of two directions:  a.) toward actual ownership, or a high probability of near-term ownership of a dedicated e-reader; or b.) into the ranks of resistors for whom the devices do not yet offer a compelling 'relative advantage' to overcome their conservatism re: printed books."

Meanwhile, Verso found that even ereader owners continue to say they buy basically equal numbers of ebooks and print books. (That's echoed by Amazon executive Russ Grandinetti at Amazon, who confirms to USA Today what has been the prevailing trend at the etailer: print and digital sales are both up, but 'digital is growing significantly faster'"--at least in units.) McKeown writes, "This points to an evolving hybrid market in which print and digital channels will need to co-exist and supplement each other in order to satisfy the expressed consumer preference for both formats. This has interesting ramifications for the future of bricks-and-mortar retail, as well as for new formats such as bundled e-books/print books."

McKeown will present and discuss the complete findings at Digital Book World, coming soon on January 23–25. More original research and data will be unveiled there in new presentations from James McQuivey at Forrester; Kelly Gallagher at Bowker PubTrack; and Giovanni Bonfanti at A.T. Kearney. Make sure to enroll before the show sells out; Publishers Lunch readers can still get the best available price on the market: use our code PUBLUNCH12 and you will save $470 off the full conference ticket price.
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