Tablet & eReader Ownership DOUBLES After Christmas – But How Many Are Actually Being Used?

The Pew Research Center released some fascinating numbers this morning. A lot of us bought ereaders and tablets this past holiday season, so much so that you’d think the recession was over.

The PRC ran a couple market surveys, first in December and then in January. They found that the number of Americans who said that they had a new tablet or ereader nearly doubled, with both tablet owners and ereader owners going from 10% to 19%. This is based on  polls of  around 3 thousand (before) and 2 thousand (after) US consumers.

But how many are actually being used? If you factor in the survey recently conducted by, not too bloody many.

This is  UK based gift card and voucher trading service, and their survey is based on 1400 UK adults. Yes, it’s a UK survey, not US, but the results are likely very similar. The survey found that nearly half of respondents had gotten a gadget for Christms that they haven’t used it yet.  (Now, 22% of that half specifically said that they weren’t using a Kindle, but that’s less important. Unless you can tell me how many of the 1400 are using the Kindle they just got for Christmas I cannot do anything with the 22%.)

If you cross the 2 sets of survey results then you end up with a much less impressive number. That 19% ereader owners is actually around 14% or 15% of actual users. It could possibly be even lower if you factored in a pessimistic assumption about the number of current ereader owners who actually use it. The real user base might be as low as 12% or 13%. Interesting, no?

I’m not that surprised. I’ve been collecting ereaders and mobile gadgets for  long time now, and some of the best preserved devices look like they are unused Christmas presents. Seriously, I have several that look like they were opened once and then put away without ever being used.

Want to know how I can tell? A well used older device generally no longer has the retail box. When a device is still in the original  retail box, the box is beat up, and no content has been loaded, I can assume that it was an unwanted Christmas gift. A couple of my Sony Data Discman fall into that category, and so does my Rocket eBook. (I love attics.)

Wait until April and then start checking Craig’s List. You’ll be amazed at all the unwanted gifts being sold.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. […] Tablet and ereader ownership nearly doubled over the holidays (to nearly one in three Americans)- but how many are actually being used? […]

  2. […] rather interesting that this data contradicts the Pew survey which was conducted back in January. That survey showed that the number of ereader owners nearly doubled between December and January (10% to 19%). Which […]

  3. […] it’s higher than the rate of ereader adoption here in the US? According to Pew, only about 19% of Americans own ereaders.The UK has surged ahead in adopting digital reading, even though they got off to a later start. […]

  4. […] back in December 2011, so it’s not as current as we might like (especially given the post Christmas spike in tablet and ereader ownership). But it’s also the only current info on this topic, so I’m pleased to have it. A total […]

  5. […] it away or selling it.  (A survey conducted in the UK yielded an even more anti-eReader message: nearly half given as Christmas gifts had yet to be opened a month […]


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