eBook consumers diversifying their format preferences

In my previous article I reported that according to the “Trade E-Book Publishing 2012” report released on August 22 by Simba Information, a very large group of iPad owners are not ebook users at all. This finding had led me to another report that was released on May 28, which suggests in terms of tablets as an e-reading device, Apple’s iPad occupies a far bigger market share than Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Now a third report has confirmed that in terms of e-reading devices in general, Kindle Fire is still the No.1 choice for consumers. The “Consumer Attitudes toward E-Book Reading” report, released by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) on July 31, surveyed more than 1,000 respondents who had either purchased an ebook or owned a dedicated e-reader device in the period between November 2009 and April/May 2012. It shows that among these e-readers, ownership of the Kindle Fire has grown from 7% in December 2011 to 20% in May 2012. In contrast, iPad has remained static at 17% over the same period.

This is the first time that Kindle Fire as a tablet has overtaken iPad in terms of e-reading devices in general. The figures of 20% and 17% are also impressive when one takes into consideration the fact that over the same period, only 5% of the report’s respondents owned a Barnes & Noble Nook tablet and 8% had another Android-based tablet.

Indeed, the report reveals that “overall use of multifunction tablets as primary e-reading devices continues to rise, with a corresponding drop in preference for dedicated e-readers”. Specifically, while Amazon’s Kindle e-reader (i.e. not necessarily Kindle Fire) is still the primary e-reading device for 35% of the report’s respondents, this figure is down from 48% in August 2011. In comparison, in May 2012, 9% of respondents considered iPad as their primary e-reading device . Another 13% of respondents used Nook tablets as their primary e-reading device.

Nonetheless, while BISG researchers argue that device ownership is an important factor in predicting ebook buying behavior, “preparing publishers for what ebook consumers want and expect from them next”, their report suggests that ebook consumers are increasingly diversifying their format preferences. The report shows that the percentage of ebook consumers who “exclusively or mostly purchase book content in ebook format” had dropped from nearly 70% in August 2011 to 60% in May 2012. In contrast, over the same period, the percentage of respondents who have “no preference for either ebook or print formats, or who buy some genres in ebook format and others in print” had risen from 25% to 34%.

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