E-readers Are the Future, But Is the iPad Among Them?


A recent survey quoted by the Wall Street Journal — conducted by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. — found that more than 40 percent of respondents said they now read more on their e-readers than they do in traditional print sources. The survey drew from a pool of 1,200 e-reader owners, who owned either an iPad, a Sony Reader or an Amazon Kindle.

As someone who actually owns all three of the aforementioned devices, I can attest that the findings ring true with my own personal experience. In fact, for me, I’d say e-reading occupies more like 70 to 80 percent of my book and magazine consumption, with the remaining percentage taken up exclusively with magazines that haven’t yet made the leap to Kindle-friendly formats, like The Walrus (The Atlantic for Canadians, basically).

While e-book adoption is still in its early stages — and by no means the norm for most people — the recent success of devices like Amazon’s new Kindle 3, which is selling like the proverbial hotcakes, is an indicator that the tide is shifting. Not only that, but it’s worth noting that those who have converted to digital books are actually purchasing far more of them: more than three times more, in fact, according to Amazon sales data.

That said, I have to wonder whether details regarding iPad usage specifically would mirror the data Amazon found. I’ve only begun to use iBooks recently, and that only since Apple introduced .PDF support to the app. Given the choice between an e-ink screen and Apple’s backlit one for reading plain text, I’ll choose Amazon’s or Sony’s device every time, and good, old-fashioned, print books second, before finally resorting to the iPad, at which point I’ll always boot up Amazon’s app, not iBooks.

I’m not the only one choosing Kindle over iPad, either. J.A. Konrath, an author with over three dozen books published on each platform, says he sees as many as 60 times more sales on Amazon than with Apple. That’s 200 books a day in the Kindle store, versus only 100 per month in iBooks.

Dedicated e-readers are getting cheaper, smaller, faster and better at what they do. The iPad will probably get better at what it does, but don’t count on it getting much cheaper, and don’t expect the emphasis to be on its e-reading capabilities in future iterations anymore than it is now. E-books are here to stay, and as long as that remains true, devices that do no more than allow users to read them cheaply and comfortably will remain at the top of the game.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: As E-book Sales Grow, So Does Disintermediation

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