More People Check Their Email on Tablets Than Read eBooks

Gartner has just released a new analysis of an old survey they ran back in November 2011. A total of 510 consumers from the U.S., U.K., and Australia in that poll group had media tablets, and Gartner asked them to keep an online seven-day diary in which they tracked what they did with their three most used devices on a daily basis.

It comes as no surprise that email was the leading activity, with 4 out of 5 checking on a daily basis. Reading the news came in a distant second (69%), with weather (63%), social networking (62%) and gaming (60%) rounding out the top 5.

Gartner also queried respondents on their preferences. “The rapid adoption of media tablets is substantively changing how consumers access, create and share content,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. ”The survey found that more than 50 percent of media tablet owners prefer to read news, magazines and books on screen, rather than on paper.”

Reading ebooks was way the heck down the list, with only about a third of tablet owners noting it in their logs. Of course, that’s still likely higher than the average population, and it’s also a greater number than those who read on other mobile devices (13%) and smartphones (7%).

Speaking of smartphones, email was also the most common activity (74%), but reading the news dropped to  4th (40%) and was replaced by social networking (57%) and gaming (42%). Reading the news was tied with listening to music. Methinks people don’t like to look at text on a small LCD screen.

The survey data also showed that tablets are becoming a very personal item, with 45% of respondents saying that they didn’t share their tablet at all. This confirms that a tablet is almost as personal as a cellphone in terms of usage and consumer attitude.





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. Myself4 July, 2012

    I guess people don’t read on smartphones because:
    a) The idea sounds ridiculous until they actually try
    b) Many people, specially in the US, still have small-screen phones. New smartphones are close to 5 inches (the standard Kindle is 6 inches), with 720p quickly becoming the standard resolution.
    c) After you try, it takes a while to realize that background color must be sepia. White on an LCD screen totally sucks, no matter the size. So again, many of those who do try are initially discouraged by the experience of reading on their phones.

    A smartphone is a totally usable reading device. It’s just that consumers haven’t realized it yet.

    1. Nate Hoffelder4 July, 2012

      I was thinking of countering your points with the point that many people read for years on PDAs, but then I realized something. The number of people who read on smartphones is probably about the same as those who used to read on PDAs. They just moved over.

      1. Myself4 July, 2012

        Well, to be honest I was too during the PDA era and I don’t remember/know what that market was like.

        But it seems to me that PDAs never got to even a fraction of the size of the current smartphone market, and they were much more concentrated geographically.

    2. DavidW5 July, 2012

      (a) Of course people read on smartphones! What are you talking about?!?

      (b) It doesn’t matter that phones are small, they were designed to work well with email, web browsing, gaming and reading… and they do.

      (c) ??? What? Why? If you’re talking about eyestrain, my iphone automatically changes the brightness of the screen. It is easy for me to get eyestrain, but I don’t reading on my iphone.

  2. DavidW5 July, 2012

    And now for the last comment:

    “A smartphone is a totally usable reading device. It’s just that consumers haven’t realized it yet.”

    Since reading rate is significantly higher on phones than the total average obviously you are completely wrong. People (I hate the word consumers) obviously know how to use their phones. From the content of your post I think that perhaps you don’t know how to use your phone.

  3. Myself5 July, 2012

    Hey dude, relax. When I said reading, I meant “reading ebooks”, which according to this (limited) poll is practised by 7% of users. By contrast, 74% check (or read) email on their phones. Again, according to this poll.

    Of course people read all the time on their phones: app menus, web content, emails, whatever. But I just meant ebooks.

    And yes, in my view, sepia vs white matters if you’re going to spend one hour reading a book.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top