A study on e-books and reading habits was presented at last Monday’s Digital Book World 2011 in New York City, with some interesting findings. Researchers from consumer market research company iModerate Research Technologies and Brock Associates surveyed consumers with a multi-function device (MFD), such as tablets or smartphones (note: the study did not include e-readers, which are dedicated devices) and found that fully 66% of respondents said that they read more because of their devices and 46% said that they have been inspired to read more books in print because of their devices.
The price of e-books played a unique role in reading habits. Only 18% of respondents said that they read only purchased books, and a full 90% of respondents said that they wish there were more free books available. More than 70% of respondents said that they download their books from Amazon.
But as publishers battle with Amazon over the price of e-books—even going to far as to make some e-books more expensive than their physical counterparts—will these trends continue? “We learned that convenience, portability and ease of access are the key drivers for using MFDs as ereaders. However, reasonable cost, particularly for the renewed reader, is an attractive feature as well,” said Laurie Brock of Brock Associates.
Two major trends emerged among respondents, which the study broke down into “avid readers” and “renewed readers.” Avid readers purchased MFDs primarily for their e-reader functionality (think tablets) and use their devices more often as e-readers, while renewed readers purchased their MFDs for other reasons but ended up rediscovering books through e-book apps. While avid readers, the study found, were driven to purchase their devices primarily for their e-reader functionality, renewed readers were found to be driven to read more by the convenience of the device.
Brock told me that the study did not ask readers exactly how many more books they are reading now because of their devices, but they did find that among the list of reasons why respondents are reading more, convenience was the most commonly selected. Some 80% of respondents said that convenience for traveling was their primary reason for reading more e-books on their device, while 61% cited the ease of purchasing e-books and 40% said they like reading on their device because of the backlit screen (this comes in handy when you’re reading in bed and your spouse is trying to sleep. My friend's husband gave her a mining cap to read with).
The majority of the respondents said that they read on their MFDs as a way of filling time, and the devices are much more convenient to tote around than physical books. When asked where and why they read, 72% of respondents said they read on their MFDs while traveling (on a train, bus, or plane), 72% said they read while waiting for an appointment, and 70% said they read on their devices to relax. These are likely the same reasons that anybody reads, but the differences are 1) it’s easier to carry around your iPad or iPhone than a book, and 2) an MFD offers a wider variety of reading material than a physical book. A number of respondents told researchers that they like the convenience of being able to select any book from a digital library rather than haul around a bunch of books.
Image source: latimes.com