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Forecast Shows Sharp Growth in Ereader Penetration

More than 60% gain in the number of ereaders this year

NEW YORK, NY (May 25, 2011)—For many consumers, expensive, multifunctional tablet devices are a more desirable choice than single-purpose ereaders. But the number of US adults who own ereaders has more than quadrupled since 2009 and is growing quickly, according to new estimates from eMarketer.

eMarketer estimates more than 20 million ereaders will be in consumer hands by the end of this year, reaching 8.7% of the US adult population, compared to just 12.7 million US adults with ereaders in 2010 and 4.4 million in 2009. By 2012, 12% of adults will have a Kindle, Sony Reader, NOOK or similar device.

“Two recent developments illustrate the broad reach of ereaders,” said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna, author of the upcoming report “Epublishing: Books, Periodicals and Devices.” “Amazon’s announcement that its ad-supported, lowest-priced Kindle is now its best-seller supports the view that people are eager for affordable, no-frills devices.”

“At the same time, Liberty Media’s $1 billion offer for Barnes & Noble was predicated largely on the retailer’s success with the NOOK Color, whose list price is nearly double that of the ad-supported Kindle,” Verna added. “Healthy sales at both ends of the ereader price spectrum bode well for continued adoption of this device category.”

eMarketer’s estimates of ereader penetration are based on a meta-analysis of several data sources. The penetration figures assume no sharing of devices; each ereader corresponds to a single user.

Advertising opportunities with ereaders have been limited in the past, but the spring 2011 rollout of the Kindle with Special Offers brought the first ad-supported ereader to market.

”Brand marketers seeking to reach book enthusiasts have a new medium at their disposal with the ad-supported Kindle,” Verna said. “Naturally, marketers will want to avoid disrupting the reading experience, but ads on the Kindle screen saver and homepage appear to be hitting the spot where the interests of advertisers, publishers, device-makers and consumers converge.”

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Posted on May 25, 2011.