Tablets may be more attractive to many users as multifunctional devices, but single-purpose ereaders still enjoyed a strong 44.2% surge in adoption in 2012 and will continue moderate growth in ownership in the coming years.
eMarketer estimates that nearly 50 million Americans used an ereader at least monthly in 2012. This year, the number of users is expected to increase 10.1% to 21.8% of internet users or 16.8% of the total population. eMarketer’s estimates of ereader users include those using devices with e-ink displays, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite. Devices with an LCD screen like the NOOK Color are considered tablets.
The fastest growth in ereader users last year was among blacks, among whom user numbers increased 81%. Uptake by Asians also rose faster than average. Both groups will continue to post above-average growth rates in users throughout the forecast period.
The bulk of ereader users are older adults, with 57.2% of the total ages 45 and up last year, and that will only change slightly in coming years. While user numbers will grow fastest in 2013 among children under 12, by 2014 older adults will again be the leading growth area for ereaders. By 2016, 60.1% of ereader users will be 45 and up.
November research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that ebook ownership reached 19% of consumers ages 16 and up. This is slightly higher than eMarketer’s penetration figure of 15.4%, but eMarketer includes users of all ages in its estimate and young children are the least likely group to use an ereader.
Pew found that among consumers of all ages who reported reading a book in the past year, 30% had read at least one ebook during that period. That compared with 89% who said they had read a printed book—leaving around 11% of book readers who seem to have gone digital-only in their reading.