One-fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year

e-book and bookAnd that number is growing rapidly.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has just released a report showing that increasing availability of e-content is prompting some to read more than in the past and to prefer buying books to borrowing them. Furthermore, the people reading e-books are avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.

The report documents the growing popularity of e-books and the adoption of specialized e-book reading devices. Most of the findings in this report come from a survey of 2,986 Americans ages 16 and older, conducted on November 16-December 21, 2011, that focused on e-reading and people’s habits and preferences.

Key findings include:

  • A fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the number of e-book readers grew after a major increase in ownership of e-book reading devices and tablet computers during the holiday gift-giving season.
  • The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.
  • 30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now.
  • The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers.
  • E-book reading happens across an array of devices, including smartphones.
  • In a head-to-head competition, people prefer e-books to printed books when they want speedy access and portability, but print wins out when people are reading to children and sharing books with others.
  • The availability of e-content is an issue to some. Of the 43% of Americans who consumed e-books in the last year or have read other long-form content on digital devices, a majority say they find the e-content is available in the format they want. Yet 23% say they find the material they are seeking “only sometimes,” “hardly ever,” or never available in the format they want.
  • The majority of book readers prefer to buy rather than borrow.

The entire report is here: The rise of e-reading.

With e-content growing and e-readers becoming so prevalent, it is even more important to ensure that content is available in appropriate electronic format under terms that make it available to the consumers who want it.

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