Readers rapidly gravitate to e-books

 

USA

America's obsession with digital tablets is driving a boon in e-book reading, a new survey shows, a trend that is dampening the appeal of printed books and shaking the centuries-old publishing business.

The share of Americans who read e-books grew to 23 percent from 16 percent over the past year while the number of adults who read printed books fell to 67 percent from 72 percent, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The swift and dramatic shift in reading habits was brought on by the rising popularity of tablets and e-reader devices, which are now owned by one-third of the U.S. population, the survey showed.

And tablets — a category jump-started by Apple just two years ago — have surpassed e-readers such as Barnes & Noble's Nook or Amazon's Kindle as the preferred device for reading digital books, Pew found. One out of four e-books is being read off a tablet, up from one out of 10 last year.

"We haven't reached this point yet, but there are reasonable thoughts that the book experience of the future will be dramatically different than today," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. "It will be a multimedia, highly social and maybe even incorporate a wiki experience."

Tablets, such as the iPad, have sold at a record pace for a new hardware device, and consumer appetite for such gadgets shows few signs of abating. Other companies, trying to eat into Apple's market share, have quickly introduced lower-priced offerings such as the Google Nexus tablets and Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Those sales have made e-reading a breakaway business trend for the year, analysts say. IDC, a technology research firm, increased its forecast of tablet sales to 122.3 million for this year, saying the demand for mobile computing devices was much greater than anticipated.

The shift toward e-books is disrupting the economics of modern book publishing. Bookstore giant Borders went bankrupt last year, unable to maintain the cost of its bricks-and-mortar stores. Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, is struggling to keep up with the transition to digital with its Nook.

So far, publishers have benefited by e-book sales. They get better margins for digital books because they don't have to be printed and distributed. Once downloaded, many titles can be shared and kept permanently.

But the e-book phenomenon also has concentrated pricing power in the hands of far fewer retailers. E-book sales are dominated by Amazon. Earlier this year, major book publishers and Apple were accused of conspiring to lift prices of digital titles. Most of these companies have settled with the Justice Department, though Apple and Macmillan have vowed to fight the charges.

Experts don't expect digital books to overtake printed pages. Physical books work better as gifts, and photos and pictures look better on paper than in digital ink, said Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director at Digital Book World.

But eventually e-books may become the dominant way that people read books, particularly as schools embrace tablets, experts say.

A host of public and private schools have adopted programs that put tablets into the hands of preschoolers. Textbook companies have launched partnerships with Apple and other device makers to put maps, history books and quizzes on apps. A growing number of libraries offer digital titles that can be borrowed, according to Pew.

E-reading is being adopted much more quickly by wealthy adults, white and black, than it is by Hispanics, poorer and less-educated Americans, the survey found, highlighting a growing income rift among e-book readers and those who rely on print.

And how much are Americans reading? According to Pew, people 16 and older read an average of six books — either digital or paper — in the past year.

Pew interviewed 2,252 people 16 and older by phone for the survey.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game