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 (s aapl), a Sony (s sne) Reader or an Amazon (s amzn) 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



An iPad is too heavy and bulky to hold comfortably for any length of time, so it’s not ideal for reading books.


Like you I have a (really old) Sony reader, a Kindle (DX) and an iPad.

I’m going to put the Sony and Kindle on eBay one of these days. I use the iPad 99.9% of the time when reading. I have to admit that the Kindle was nice on the eyes, but only in the right light. Since I read a lot at night I got a light for the Kindle but it produced a lot of glare.

I also have the B&N app and am not ashamed to say that I check all 3 (Amazon, Apple and B&N) for the cheapest price when buying a book.

Of course, I also shop used book stores so there is no real brand loyalty in the book space for me :-)

I also question Mr. Konrath’s stats or at least the usage of said stats. It would be more interesting to see if Amazon would publish how many of his books are delivered to iPhones, iPads and Kindles, however the odds of that happening are probably pretty slim. Especially if it hurts the Kindle numbers.

Jared weaver

Yes the kindle store is better, but all the Kindle books I read are on the iPad


Well, the preference of Kindle over the iPad is hardly surprising considering the iPad is a very low resolution device. It’s not the fact that it’s backlit that’s the problem, the problem is that it is very tiring for the eyes and brain to read that blurry screen.

Obviously I’m talking about degrees here, as the iPad screen looks fine for casual viewing, but comparing it to the Kindle or a current generation iPhone screen and especially comparing the density of pixels per inch, you get pretty low numbers for the iPad. The e-ink technology of the Kindle is worse in several ways, but crispness is not one of them, and I personally believe that is the deciding factor.

The iPad and all personal computers need screens with far higher pixel density. That brings other issues like power consumption and graphics update speed, but to read on them for prolonged periods of time, you need magazine-like resolutions or beyond to be really comfortable.


I was thinking the same thing about the iPad when I was debating getting it.Is eyestrain going to be an issue? Then I got it and found I can do all the reading I want on it and so far have not noticed any eyestrain. Then again I sit in front of a computer screen for many hours a day so maybe my eyes have adjusted.


Over here in Australia, we can’t yet buy books from the ibookstore. So I buys books from Amazon to read on my iPad and iPhones. Kindle books sale is not a good metric to measure the popularity of the kindle hardware.


I’ve been reading e-books on my iPad for 3 months now, and it’s simply fine. I don’t have any other ebook reader, and don’t feel compelled toget one. I read 1-2 hrs every night, and find it no strain.


I loved my Kindle 2 and when I moved to the iPad my wife took ownership of the Kindle 2 and loves it even more. For me the iPad works best because I can read books, magazines, and comics all on one device. Plus surf the web and do many other things like play games or listen to music. All on one device. :)

Under Armor

I think your being extremely short sighted in that the new wave of full-featured eBooks that take full advantage of the iPad will show how inferior the Kindle 3 dino books really are.
Secretly make no mistake that all the eReader vendors are scrambling to pull their pants up after the mighty iPad dropped them and fully exposed their short-comings if you know what i means. :-)


Totally interesting article!! I didn’t know many people purchased or even used the Kindle.

I did noticed though a lot of people (in NYC on the trains, buses, and cafe), with their iPads, reading and reading….

They are the ones who made me purchase the iPad…
They are the ones who made me think my students will starting reading. And, they are right!!

Totally interested article! I have to stick with what I know.. Ipad all day!! The best reading device out there!
All the kids will tell you so….

Now, I see why these iPad are being used in schools!


I used to own a Kindle DX. (Gave it to my mother for Mother’s Day.) I found that after buying the iPad, I didn’t use my Kindle at all. I have a long subway commute, and I can’t justify the weight of more than one device. iPad wins, hands down. I buy all my books through Amazon’s Kindle app, but I do all my reading on the iPad. I am an avid reader with a paper book library of over 1500 books; however, since I bought my Kindle (and later the iPad), the only paper books I buy are those that are unavailable for e-readers. I don’t want to give up the convenience of being able to carry all the books I am currently reading with me at all times. I have set my Kindle app to a sepia color, which seems to help with the eye strain. All that to say, between the Kindle, paper, and the iPad — the iPad wins by a large margin for me. I can’t imagine going back to a single use device. Ever.


As an owner of both an ipad and Kindle I have to completely agree with the author. I love and use both my ipad and Kindle regularly, and I honestly see them coexisting quite well. Let me just say when I travel now, instead of a laptop, and 3 or 4 books, I am down to Ipad, Kindle, and maybe bluetooth keyboard. It is great. Kindle is always my first choice for reading because it is so great on the eyes. I can then easily switch over to the ipad to get some work done, answer emails, get online, watch netflix, play a game, etc. I also agree that the Amazon is far superior at this point to ibooks, the greater variety and availability is wonderful and the fact that I can sink from my Kindle and ipad seamlessly is wonderful. As there are times when I know I will be reading some but not heavily, say waiting room at a doctors appointment where I take my ipad and not the kindle to have the diversity of options. Any way, my point is I do not think they are one or the other but complements to each other and both are excellent devices.


I don’t have an iPad, but I have been reading books on my iPhone and previously on my iPod Touch. I really like that the screen is backlit so I can read it at night without a night light or flashlight anywhere I want, as I am usually reading in the evenings when I have free time. I can also bring my phone with me to lunch or other places during the day and read without bringing any additional devices with me. I’m reading about 4 books a month on my phone, not a ton, but mostly because I am reading a lot of news content with my phone too. I am also listening to 10-12 audiobooks a month on my iPhone. This time last year, I was reading about 15 paper books a month and maybe 1 or two ebooks a year on my laptop. Now I reading about 7 paper books a month, the audio books, and no ebooks on my laptop – just on the phone. People should stop complaining about book sales, I’m enjoying tons of the beyond content classics and free signup books. The folks getting sales are not representative of the amount of reading taking place.


Strictly speaking, Konrath’s stats only tell you who’s selling the book, not what technology the buyers are using. There are other devices able to read Amazon ebooks than just the Kindle.


I also meant to mention another thing I like about the iPad is being able to click links with articles and books to view the websites that are suggested. And also being able to take a break to check my email is very convenient too. Lovin my iPad.



I enjoyed your post. This topic is interesting to me. I love to read my books and pdf’s on my Kindle and iPad. Much of my reading is pdf’s and for me I find that reading PDF’s on my older Kindle very non user friendly. Using Amazon’s free converter doesn’t convert many of the graphics and images where they are very easy to read/view. But I absolutely love reading them on my iPad and especially since I don’t have to convert them either. With the iPad the graphics and photos are in color and for me this is awesome and much more attractive and easy to read.

And I prefer iBooks format to the Kindle reader for ease of use. I find the Kindle app is very temperamental when using the highlight feature, which I use alot, but the iBooks very precise.

Of course I can’t read my iBooks on the Kindle, that I have figured out yet but that would be a nice feature. So Kindle books can be read on both the kindle and iPad and my computer which is helpful, wish I could read my iBooks on my computer too.

Again while the Kindle reader and books are great I prefer to read my pdf’s and ebooks on the iPad…hands down my favorite so my personal vote and preference is for the iPad! Thanks for your article.

Darrell Etherington

I think that if authors move toward more media-rich writing styles, the iPad will be better for the reasons you describe. I’m still not sure that will be enough to account for a sea change among dedicated novel readers and others who enjoy plain text and marathon reading sessions.


No fanboy here, but a lifelong reader. I would sooner listen to a symphony composed of nails scratching a blackboard then put up with the migraine inducing and head scratching slowness of page refreshing on a Kindle. How people put up with that for each and every turn of a page I cannot fathom. I will take the speed and smoothness of an iPad (using the Kindle App) and its backlit screen over the e-ink of a Kindle each and every time.

Darrell Etherington

When’s the last time you used a Kindle, Lee? I have the latest generation DX and I find the refresh time is much improved over previous models.

On my Sony Reader, though, I completely agree. Agonizingly slow. Do you use your iPad for novels, magazines, or what? I find long reading sessions with the backlit screen tire my eyes out.


I know that the refresh rate is improved over the original, but still find that “pregnant pause” to be a distraction. I suppose I could get used to it after time, but a device I use for reading, while reading, should lower my blood pressure, not aggravate me.

I have never quite understood the e-ink debates. Like many of us, I spend almost all day in front of a monitor. After doing that for so many years, I don’t find that reading on a device such as an iPad, despite it being backlit, as anything but “natural”. If you can spend 8-10 hours a day in front of a backlit computer screen, I don’t understand how reading 100 pages or more on a backlit device is tiring.

I’m an attorney and use the iPad to read everything from comics to magazines to novels to pdfs of contracts and pleadings. I prefer the backlit (albeit set to less then sunburn brightness) and find it much more natural and relaxing then reading an e-ink device. I agree with the other comments – while iBooks has a very nice UI, the Kindle app, with all of the available content really shines on the iPhone. I’m still annoyed that it took ereader so long to make its app iPad compatible since I had such a large library of books – as a result I buy almost all my new content from Amazon.

Oh, and don’t get me started as to why I need 3 or 4 different e-readers to read all my books…unless I feel like using 3rd party programs to convert my books and then reload and hope they format correctly…sheesh!

Comments are closed.