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Guess What? e-Reader Owners Buy More Books

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The Nook from Barnes & Noble

Does owning a Kindle (s amzn) or a Nook (s bns) make you more likely to buy and read books? According to a new survey released today, it sure does. The study by L.E.K. Consulting shows that while e-reader owners are still a relatively small proportion of the population, almost half of them say they are reading more books. And a large number of those books are new books — in other words, books they would not otherwise have bought or read.

Survey respondents also said they’re reading more newspapers and magazines, which could fan the embers of hope that are still smoldering in the declining print media industry — embers that flared up recently with news of Apple’s (s aapl) much-hyped tablet, which is expected to be launched at a gala event later this month.

Of the 10 percent of consumers who own e-readers, 48 percent told L.E.K. that they were reading more books vs. just 7 percent who said their book reading decreased. E-reader owners also said they were reading more newspapers than before (59 percent) and more magazines (44 percent). According to L.E.K., 36 percent of the books read by people with e-readers are “incremental consumption,” representing new books rather than books the owner would otherwise have read in print.

The global consulting group reported the findings in its second annual “Hidden Opportunities in New Media Survey” of more than 2,000 households. The study also showed that 44 percent of e-reader owners increased their new media usage in the last year, compared with 16 percent of iPod owners and 19 per cent of Facebook users (new media was defined as watching movies or streaming video, listening to audio or playing multiplayer online video games).

“The fact that Amazon sold more Kindle books than printed books on Christmas Day 2009 speaks volumes,” L.E.K. vice president Dan Schechter said in a news release. “We’ve dubbed the 10 percent of consumers who own an e-reader as the ‘E-reader Republic,’ and think that it is a potential goldmine for content providers and advertisers alike.”

While iPod owners consumed about nine hours per week of new media, e-reader owners consumed more than 18 hours a week. L.E.K. said the survey is considered demographically representative of the U.S. population over 18 years of age.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Evolution of the e-Book Market

Thumbnail image courtesy of Amazon; in-post image is from Barnes & Noble.

23 Responses to “Guess What? e-Reader Owners Buy More Books”

  1. Well, this is certainly true in my case. I have had a BeBook One now for a while and find myself picking it up quite often and reading a few pages of newly purchased books. I have bought around 6 books and downloaded them to the device in just the past 2 or 3 months. I would normally never buy regular books at that rate.

  2. yes, well said. these e-tablets/readers are powerful enabling platforms. my estimate is that the next generation of these devices that’s around the corner will also appeal to a segment of users that have not even owned a pc yet. if picking up a tablet is as easy as flipping a magazine, then a whole new market opens up.

  3. I have had my Kindle for 6 months and have been reading on it nonstop. I have always been a reader but since getting my Kindle I have read more books within the last 6 months than I have in the last 2 years. Not only am I reading a lot more but I am reading books that I would not have normally read. I love how many free books are offered but that is also one of the ways publishers are pulling people into series books. There is only one thing that I really don’t like and that is instead of giving me page numbers at the bottom, they give you a location code. I wouldn’t mind the location code if only the numbers made sense to me. I love my Kindle and am planning on many years of enjoyment with it to come!!! Not only that but all the people whom I know who have Kindles themselves, love them as much as I love mine.

  4. I’ve read three books on my Kindle and counting. It does make me read more due to the convenience of getting a book whenever I want or wherever I am. I’m an avid reader, but never read as many print books as I do e-books on Kindle. Take that for what it’s worth — the Kindle experience is great.

  5. I wonder how many people actually finish those books they purchase on the Kindle. Feels like it was more the excitement of owning a Kindle and perhaps purchasing a bunch of books to have content, but in reality many of those books will never be finished by the reader. My hunch is that Kindle readers don’t finish as many books as people who purchase the physical book.


  6. Chris Yakimov

    Seems also that most of the cited evidence was self-report. Could very easily be a recency-type bias (you generally notice the new things in your life more than things that have become habit). Would love to see a stat about books that are completed via Kindle vs. print-based, as well as an overall measure of time spent reading (not through self-report). Not that I’m skeptical or anything ;)

  7. Ben Perry

    Isn’t it misleading to use the fact that Amazon sold more digital books on Christmas day than dead wood ones? Surely it’s simply a result of a large number of those that received Kindles for Christmas eagerly downloading material for their new device. I can’t imagine that Christmas Day is a prime book buying day for many.

    It would be interesting to know what the balance of purchases between digital and physical is on a typical day.

  8. I’m going to remain skeptical of the whole e-reader “bonanza” until we see some actual sales stats from Amazon. Was the LEK study funded by e-reader interests? Certainly e-reader folks are happy with the technology but I’m not convinced it will ever mainstream enough to be a significant economic force in publishing. Amazon’s reluctance to share numbers remains very conspicuous to me – it’s as if they want to define all the spin rather than let the community figure out whether e-reading mania is a good, bad, or ugly idea.

  9. I’m looking forward to the day when Wal-Mart steps into the fray, and does to ebooks what they did to CDs, and start selling them for $4.99 instead of the absurd prices that are now being charged.

  10. Excellent points. I think it only took me 3 or 4 months of Kindle ownership before I had spent more on content than on the actual hardware. While I’ve been reading e-books since 2003 on PDAs & smartphones, the better experience offered by the Kindle has definitely ramped up my e-book content purchases. And I’ve noticed a personal trend towards purchasing “recommended items” as well. It doesn’t hurt that Amazon offers a free trial of any Kindle book – that hook alone probably accounts for 20% of my purchases.

    • Totally agree, Kevin. I don’t have a Kindle myself, but watching and listening to friends who have them definitely lends some anecdotal support to the trends that L.E.K. is talking about. They are buying more books, as well as subscribing to magazines and newspapers — because it’s easy to do so, and convenient.