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Japanese Consumers Still Prefer Paper Books Over eReaders

toshiba-e-reader-04-04-13-02[1]eReader adoption is well established in the US, with around 25% of Americans reporting that they own one, but that is not the case everywhere. A recent survey has revealed that far fewer Japanese have adopted ereaders, with the vast majority preferring paper.

Jiji Press conducted a survey in early March 2013 which revealed that ereaders were facing a great deal of resistance in Japan. A total of 1,276 adults were polled in the survey, and only 6.7% reported that they used an ereader. A somewhat larger group (22.2%) indicated that they might want to use an ereader in the future, but a solid majority (69.8%) had no interest in the gadgets.

There’s no general info on how many respondents were reading ebooks, but the survey results do show that ebook usage is highest among respondents in their 30s (18.5%), followed by their younger cohort (11.3%). The older demographics were much less likely to have read an ebook.

kobo[1]As disappointing as this news might be, ereader adoption is still up slightly from 2 years ago. A similar poll conducted in March 2011 showed that only 3.3% of Japanese owned an ereader.

And to be perfectly honest I’m not sure this survey is rigorous enough to be worth taking seriously. The original English language report that I found seems to confuse reading ebooks with using an ereader. In fact, the stats mentioned above about the age groups might actually refer to ereader ownership.

There is an important distinction between using an ereader and reading ebooks because reading devices other than ereaders are much more common in Japan than are ereaders. I can’t find any data on tablet ownership in Japan, but over a third of the adult population of Japan has a smartphone, with much of the rest of the population owning a cellphone.

If even a tithe of the adult population reads on their phone then it will throw off the Jiji Press survey.


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The Commons April 22, 2013 um 4:50 pm

Let’s not forget that Japan is the land of the cellphone novel, with the most popular ebooks scoring millions of readers. Some of them have been published as physical books, with millions of copies sold.

Nate Hoffelder April 23, 2013 um 7:24 am

This is very true, but I couldn’t find any stats about it.

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