The eReader Isn’t Dead – Tablet, eReader Ownership Increased Over Christmas

320300354_a8e1ce5eef[1]Remember last December when there was all the doom and gloom about the decline in ereader shipments? Many blogs reported it as a sign of the end of the ereader market, but given the latest survey data from Pew Research Center that’s probably not the case.

According to the PRC over a quarter of Americans adults owned an ereader in January 2013. It seems that reports of the death of the ereader were greatly exaggerated.

This data comes not from the survey on American libraries or the report on US reading habits. Instead a helpful soul with the Pew Research Center pointed me at the reports and survey data that Pew has been gathering in their study of America’s mobile shopping habits.

The January survey data shows that 31% of Americans now own a tablet of some kind, be it iPad, Android, or iPad. That’s up slightly from the 25% who reported the same in November 2012. That is an excellent growth rate, even though it is far less spectacular than what was reported this time last year (from 10% before Christmas to 19% after Christmas).

Gadgets over time

But  never mind tablets; the important news today is ereader adoption. According to the most recent survey conducted in January, a full 26% of American adults now own an ereader. That’s up from the 19% who owned them back in November.

Let’s look at those numbers. According to the survey data ereader ownership got a 9 point bump last Christmas and a 7 point bump this Christmas. That’s not exactly what I would call a sharp decline, and it is not anywhere close to resembling iSuppli’s prediction that ereader shipments would drop by a third in 2012.

In fact, if we factor in the estimated sales in markets other than the US, for example the 1 million ereaders sold in Germany in 2012, I would not be willing to argue that ereader shipments dropped at all in 2012.

Furthermore, I think I now see why E-ink predicted in early January that ereader shipments would increase in 2013. They had probably already gotten early data on ereader sales over Christmas, and that data probably showed exactly what I just told you.

It seems that reports of the death of the ereader were greatly exaggerated. The hard-core readers and book buyers are still adopting ebook readers.  The numbers might not be going up as fast as before but they’re still going up.

I told you so.

via Pew Research Center

 image by gadl

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. Mike Cane7 March, 2013

    And this explains the B&N Nook “giveaways”?

  2. RebeccaT7 March, 2013

    “Ownership” of e-readers will expand even if/when the rate of new device sales reaches a plateau in some markets. I know many an e-reader whose first e-ink device came to them as the hand-me down (or hand-me up) when a parent, sibling or child got a new device. My 1st e-reader (K2) is now “owned” by my sister. It was originally lent to her hubby, the more avid reader of the pair–he now owns a new PW, and she asked to hang on to the K2 to use herself. No one throws away a perferctly good e-reader. If you have another device to use as back-up (phone or iPad), you might as well give the old e-ink device away or sell it while it still has some $$ value.

  3. fjtorres7 March, 2013

    7% bump in 2012 is off a base that was at least 9% larger than the 2011 base so the holiday sales for 2012 were comparable to 2011 in actual unit sales. Any actual decline was likely limited to you-know-who…

  4. […] uno studio di PEW Research Center che, studiando le abitudini d’acquisto della popolazione U.S.A., rileva […]

  5. Mark — eBook DesignWorks10 March, 2013

    Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but my fingers are crossed that the Kindle e-inks hang on for a while yet.

    My family and I love their simplicity, and our ability to read the screens easily in bright sunlight. We travel abroad full-time so these little devices—with their long-battery life, low price, and light weight — are perfect for us.

  6. Andreas13 March, 2013

    Ereaders are such wonderful inventions for those who actually want to read books. Tablets, with their horrible glossy lcd screens can not at all deliver the comfortable reading experience an ereader can. Unless a new kind of multipurpose screen can be developed I predict a very good future for e-ink type reading devices.

  7. […] eReader market may not be growing as fast as before, but it is still growing, including articles by The Digital Reader and […]

  8. […] time 34% of Americans owned tablets, a negligible difference from the 35% reported today. Also, an earlier report from January showed that 26% of Americans owned ereaders, meaning that the 24% that Pew reported […]

  9. […] to research by the Pew Research Centre referenced on the in March 2013 while tablet sales continue to increase, so do ebook readers, with 26% of American […]

  10. Derick Kelleher6 January, 2014

    I haven’t checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my
    everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


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