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Every Fourth German Reads eBooks

9756325465_fdd5dda81d_hA new survey shows that ebook adoption has increased slightly in Germany over the past year.

A new consumer survey from Bitkom revealed yesterday that 25% of a recent survey group had read an ebook. This was up 1% from last year.

A total of 2,325 people were surveyed for this report, and 577 reported reading ebook. The ebook readers tended to be younger, with 32% falling in the 14- to 29-year-old range and 30% in the 30- to 49-year-old age group. Fewer 50- to 64-year-olds (28%) read ebooks, and only 11% of the senior citizens in this study reported reading ebooks.

The most used reading device was the laptop, with 41%, followed closely by smartphones (38%), and ereaders (33%). Around a fifth of respondents (21%) still use a desktop computer, and almost as many (21%) read on a tablet.

Speaking of reading devices, Bitkom predicts that 25.6 million smartphones and 7.7 million tablets will be sold in Germany this year, but only 600,000 ereaders. So while ebook adoption might grow over the next year, it won’t be on ereaders.

Those who have adopted ebooks say that they value the fact that the books are available at any time (77%). Those who don’t use ebooks say that they are sticking with paper because of the sensory perception of printed books (49%), do not want to read on a screen (39%), or feel that the hardware is too expensive (44%). A sizable minority of non-ebook users (35%) also said they could concievably use ebooks in the future.

And when  or if they do, they’ll be more likely to borrow ebooks from the library than ever. Nearly one-third (32%) of the ebook users said they borrow ebooks from public libraries up from 25% last year and 17% the year before.

More than a quarter (27%) of ebook users read free ebooks, and 19% borrow ebooks from services like  Skoobe or Kindle Unlimited (up from 16% last year)

The vast majority of ebook users (70%) buy ebooks online from the major ebook retailers, although a far smaller number (24)% buy from the same store as their ereader. Given that 33% of respondents own an ereader, the discrepancy could indicate the impact of the widespread use in the German ebook market of lighter forms of DRM.

In related news, 13% of ebook users bought ebooks direct from the author, and 7% bought ebooks from the publishers' website.

Bitkom via InfoDocket

image by Ines Njers

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Anne October 7, 2015 um 3:34 pm

The lower percentage for the older age groups surprises me as it is the total opposite in my circle but I don’t know when eink and ebooks became readily available in Germany.

Anyway, none of the "old" people I know would willingly give up their adjustable fonts. Plus they were the only ones with an income that could have afforded the early eink devices.

Nate Hoffelder October 7, 2015 um 4:04 pm

That surprised me as well, and for exactly the same reason. I would have thought that seniors would be more likely to go digital.

Why Academic Publishing Needs Digital Platform Solutions | Digital Book World October 8, 2015 um 8:12 am

[…] One in Four Germans Reads Ebooks (Digital Reader) A new survey shows that ebook adoption has increased slightly in Germany over the past year. The German market research firm Bitkom revealed that 25 percent of a recent survey group had read an ebook. This was up 1 percent from last year. […]

Jerry Preissler October 8, 2015 um 8:58 am

Small correction: Bitkom is not a research firm, it is an industry association representing 2000+ IT businesses in Germany.

Nate Hoffelder October 8, 2015 um 9:05 am

Thanks. I’ll fix it.

Reader October 8, 2015 um 12:39 pm

Those who don’t use ebooks say that they are sticking with paper…feel that the hardware is too expensive (44%).

Given that it is not difficult to find hardbound books that are more expensive than some e-readers- though some low e-reader prices are to be found only during certain sales promotions- this answer may not reflect much thought. [Though Germany may not have the low prices during sales that one can find in the US, given its more regulated markets compared to the US.]

Regarding senior citizen’s lower adaption of e-readers in Germany, I am reminded of a senior citizen in my book club. She doesn’t want to mess with an e-reader. She has very cogent comments about the books we read, so her disinclination to use an e-reader doesn’t come from senility or lack of intellect. I see it as her being comfortable with print books, and doesn’t want to mess with adapting to a new highfalutin' technology.

Two or three decades ago, some senior citizens were willing to adapt themselves to the new technology of personal computers. A friend of my mother did, and had learned enough to state that "The computer doesn’t do what I want it to do, it does what I tell it to do." On the other hand, my mother and some of her friends never wanted to bother to adapt to using a personal computer. PC or Apple.

As others have pointed out, the ability to change fonts is very helpful for senior citizens with diminished eyesight. I have a seventy-something relative who is an avid Kindle user. She is so avid a Kindle user that she gave me my first e-reader. She converted me.

Nirmala October 8, 2015 um 1:16 pm

Even though ereader sales are low compared to smartphones and tablets, I would not count them out completely. It would seem that the buyers of ereaders are probably more avid readers than the general population, so that smaller subset might still represent a lot of future ebook sales.

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