iPad E-Reading Market Share Stagnates as Tablet E-Reading Rises

By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Google is taking a bite out of Apple among consumers who read e-books.

Two out of five e-book readers who choose a tablet as their primary reading device use an iPad; at the end of 2011, two-thirds of those e-book readers were using an iPad, roughly a 25 point drop, according to a new study from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). Some 25% of all readers who read e-books are now reading on tablets, up from under 20% at the end of 2011. (See chart below.)

About 10% of consumers who read e-books chose the iPad as their e-reading device of choice at the end of 2011 and in the most recent version of the BISG study. Over that same period, the percentage of people who chose an Android tablet as their e-reading device of choice shot up to about 15% from 6% in the earlier period.

BISG, in partnership with Bowker Market Research, interviewed 1,000 e-book readers about their attitudes toward e-books and e-reading in February 2012 as part of the Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading study. Over the same period, those reading e-books on an Android tablet jumped to about 15% of all e-book readers from about 6%.

Growth in tablet e-reading was fueled in the early part of the year by Amazon’s Kindle Fire. According to a recent report from research firm IDC, Kindle Fire shipments plummeted to 4% of first quarter 2012 market share after capturing 16.8% of the market in the fourth quarter of 2011.

As consumers increasingly choose tablets of any type as primary reading devices over dedicated e-readers, the e-book business could be adversely affected, according to Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker.

“Tablets will adversely affect the e-book business in that the tablet is a multifunction device and will therefore draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device,” Gallagher told Digital Book World last week.

As tablets put pressure on sales of dedicated e-readers, prices of the e-ink devices could drop until they hit $0, Gallagher said.

“I think Nook and Kindle will actively promote this [a free e-reader] by the end of the year,” said Gallagher.

Source: BISG's Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading, Volume Three, Report 2 of 4, April 2012.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

8 thoughts on “iPad E-Reading Market Share Stagnates as Tablet E-Reading Rises

  1. Vicki Fox Smith

    I have to wonder if anyone is looking at the difference between eInk device users and tablet users. I suspect that “big” readers are more likely to opt for eInk devices. I use my Android tablet occasionally for books, but I do the bulk of reading ( 70+ books a year ) on my Kobo touch.

    1. Georgie Lewis

      Vicki, I am exactly the same as you. I love my Kobo touch, which weighs less than a mass market book, and I can read on in any light. My iPad makes a book look more glam as I turn the pages, but it is heavy for long haul novel reading.

    2. Suz

      My dad reads most of his ebooks via his original Kindle. He also has an Android ablest, which uses the Kindle app, but it is not HS main source for reading. I currently only have an iPad with several ebook apps, but would actually like to get a Kindle as I think the eInk works better and doesn’t have the glare of the iPad.

  2. Suz

    Sorry for the typos in my comment. Typing n the iPad doesn’t always work the way I want it to.

  3. Jean Kaplansky

    The Android stats are inflated by the Kindle Fire… BUT, Kindle Fire sales have just slowed in a major way. iPad sales are not slowing at the same rate.

    The remarks about the dedicated ereaders are true. There most likely will be some form of free kindle or nook just to keep these readers in the hands of end users.

    I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the statement about ebook sales slowing down because people are distracted by their tablets, though. Even if ereader first adopters switch to tablets, they’re still going to buy books at the same rate, or maybe even a higher rate on their tablets (partially because they’re readers first and foremost, and partially because it’s too easy to buy more books while you’re “distracted” by the rest of the tablet).

    For instance, I have watched maybe 2 movies on my iPad/iPhone in the entire time I’ve had both units. Even though I’m an Amazon Prime member, I have yet to watch anything on my Kindle Fire.

    In fact, I’m not entirely sure why I pay for my Netflix membership, seeing as I pretty much never use it…

    (Using myself as an example of a heavy reader/early adopter).

  4. Nigel Parry

    87.2% of statistics are made up, and 91.3% are meaningless.

    I would suggest that the stats at the beginning provide data, but not information. What is the market growth? Where and who from? Why? How do they segment?

    The quotes towards the end of the article are perhaps more interesting and might have made a better lead; Digital book readers to be free.

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