8 Million Brits Own an eReader – Or Do They?

amazon-kindle-ukHere's a piece of survey data that I think should be taken with a grain of salt. The UK branch of the market analyst firm Deloitte released the results of their annual media consumer survey today. I have not found a copy of the results, but reports are coming in that ereader ownership has reached a new high in the UK. Deloitte estimates that eight million Brits now own an ereader. That is reportedly about a third of UK households, with baby boomers the most likely to own one.

This number is being framed as a new high and proof that the ereader isn't dead, but I'm not so sure it can be trusted. You see, I have survey data from last year that shows 33% of the UK adult population own an ereader.

That's what Wiggin reported last year based on their annual survey. (The current survey is due to be released next week.) The Wiggin data is based on a poll of 2,500 adults in the UK, which is a population of about 52 million people. If we do a little back of the envelope calculations we end up with about 17 million ereader owners in the UK adult population.

That 17 million is very different from the 8 million that Deloitte is reporting today, and it raises questions about which one should be trusted.

I'm leaning towards placing greater trust in the Wiggins data. Part of this comes from my bias in favor of wanting ereaders to succeed, but the Wiggins survey data also has more background detail to explain how it was reached. Also, the Wiggins survey results didn't make the same questionable leap that Deloitte made today.

Deloitte over-generalized their survey data to make statements about the UK population. Their claim of 8 million ereaders is clearly not supported by their survey data - not unless they surveyed over 8 million Brits for this survey. What Deloitte should have reported was that Y percentage of their survey group of X people had an ereader. That is the actual survey data, not the 8 million.

Now, if Deloitte actually released the real survey data, I will have to revise my opinion.  But until then I am going to treat today's news as bad data. And never mind that I made the same over-generalization; I would not use that figure for anything other than to show the difference between the two numbers.

Luckily we have new survey data from Wiggins coming next week, and that gives us the luxury of not using the Deloitte data.

About Nate Hoffelder (11376 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on 8 Million Brits Own an eReader – Or Do They?

  1. “What Deloitte should have reported was that Y percentage of their survey group of X people had an ereader. That is the actual survey data, not the 8 million.”

    Most likely, when extrapolated to the population at large, it comes out to 8 million. Nothing to get excited about as it’s common to cite the expected value for the total population – both with and instead of the actual survey numbers.

    Personally, I’d like to see what both are defining as an “ereader” and what the people they surveyed considered an ‘ereader’. Betting in both that a LOT of people with smartphones noticed an ereader app and thus consider their phones to count…

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