Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey results reveal trends

Amazon Kindle sleep mode viewThe Book Industry Study Group recently released results of its Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey that addressed questions about which type of device people use for e-books and which genres they’re reading on their devices.

Here are the highlights:

  • 44 percent of e-book readers prefer a tablet over a dedicated e-reader (for example, a Kindle), an increase of 7 percent since August 2012.
  • The number of respondents who prefer to read e-books on a dedicated e-reader dropped to 42 percent from 49 percent at the last survey in August 2012.
  • Those who prefer dedicated e-readers are more likely to read romance, mystery, literary fiction, and general fiction than are users of other types of devices.
  • Readers of how-to guides and manuals prefer to read them on their personal computers.
  • Smartphone readers are more likely to read travel books than are either tablet or dedicated e-reader users.

The survey also revealed information about the popularity of e-books:

  • About 82 percent of “power buyers” — those who buy e-books on a weekly basis — prefer e-books over print.
  • Nearly 70 percent of those who aren’t power buyers now prefer e-books over print.

What are the lessons for authors?

There are a few take-aways here for those of us who write books:

  • Novelists will want to make sure their book is available in as many dedicated e-reader stores as possible. While most authors probably have Kindle covered, they don’t want to overlook Sony’s Reader Store, the Nook Book Store, and others.
  • Those who write how-to guides and manuals might consider offering their books in PDF formats. I introduced Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book in PDF format first because I knew that users would want access to it on their computer while writing their press releases. The PDF format also allowed me to use a layout that would make the step-by-step instructions easier to read and follow. I added the Kindle and iTunes formats later, but continue to sell more copies in PDF format.
  • Travel writers should get their books in the Aldiko (Android)  iTunes (Apple) bookstore.

Your e-book publisher (Smashwords, BookBaby, eBooks2go, etc.) will be your best resource and advisor.

(Photo by Allie from Vancity via Compfight)

Back to the survey . . . what’s your preferred e-book reader — a dedicated device, tablet, or computer?







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  1. I jump from computer to dedicated e-reader to iPhone, depending on where I am, what the light conditions are, and what else is going on. Love always having my books with me.

    1. Thanks, Jan. I love being able to read on my iPhone while I’m waiting for something (or somebody), too!


  2. I like Smashwords alot because of it hits all the ereaders. I don’t like reading on my computer but do like my Kindle Fire. Sometimes I read on my droid but not often, too small. I do sell on my website as well.

    1. Thanks, Judy. I’m not a big fan of reading on the computer, either. I spend too much time in front of the monitor already. Do you sell in the PDF format on your site?


      1. How is reading on an ereader better than reading from my laptop? My laptop’s screen is much bigger which helps me have bigger font so I don’t have to sit so close to it.

  3. I have a feeling this is one of those situations where what consumers say in a survey isn’t exactly what they do. I write nonfiction and periodically survey my subscriber list about this very subject – having my books available in PDF format always comes back high on the list of preferences – and yet I can count on one hand the number of purchases in that format. I track every click through on my blog and time and again people opt for an ereader format over PDF.

    I’ve spoken with a number of other authors who have been told by their followers they want books in audio and when they went through the time and expense to provide that format – sold zip. I remember reading something by Steve Job about the fickle nature of customer feedback – I’m going to have to try and find that. Thanks for the great info!

    1. 2 thoughts on this, Marquita. First, the people buying your e-book format rather than the PDF format might not be the people on your subscriber list. OR, it could mean that they’d like to buy the PDF, but the other e-book versions cost so much less that they feel compelled to make the lower priced purchase, even if it’s not in their preferred format.

      Second, regarding the other authors, it could be that their followers DO prefer audio books, but have made a decision not to buy those authors’ books. In other words, I could tell author Mary Smith that I prefer audio books over print or e-books, but not be interested in Mary’s books and therefore not buy them. It might be more helpful for all of us to survey the people who have actually purchased our books, but that isn’t an easy thing to do unless they’re buying from our websites.

      Just tossin’ a few thoughts out there….


      1. Terrific observations and it goes to a couple of things – either we have the wrong people on our list(s), or we need to do a better job on how we word our surveys – probably a bit of both. Still, I think since this is an issue that caught Steve Jobs attention there is some validity to balancing how we view customer feedback. Really must find that article. Thanks!

        1. I’m sure you’re right, Marquita. And I could also be completely off-base — I just wanted to toss out a couple of alternative theories.

          : )


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