Saturday, April 30, 2011

1.5% of coworkers buying ereaders per week

I just occurred to me how significant a population is buying ereaders. I was chatting with a friend noting that just as many coworkers bought ereaders this week as last week; the friend naturally asked, "is that a significant fraction, you work for a big company."

So I took a sample size of 200. Of that sample, 3 per week are buying ereaders; a pace maintained for over a month. Now, I probably should divide that 1.5% by 2 or 4 as they are buying for spouses, kids, and parents too.

Once again, it is large fonts driving the buying. People who in the past would have given up on reading are going ebook. Boomers are driving ebook adoption in the UK.

“Large-type books have always gone out of print quickly, and if their sales drop and publishers stop printing them, your patrons with poor eyes may eventually have no choice but your digital book collection unless they qualify for service from the Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.”

If I seemed obsessed with people buying ereaders for large type ereading... it has been over four months since a week went by without me running into someone who 're-discovered' reading thanks to the ease of font size switching on ereaders. I'd love to know how this meme gained such 'legs.'

The other fast growing group of readers I know is the 'convenience' readers which I just blogged in my prior article. These are the individuals who will now read more as they are carrying a device that allows ebook reading. :)

Got Popcorn?


  1. I bought my Kindle as an early adopter. I will say, I definitely read more with an e-reader on my person than with my traditional paperback. I don't have to fumble with bookmarks (and lose them, grr!) and the e-reader is much more unobtrusive than a physical book. I feel a little that with the prevalence of smartphones, iPads, and e-readers, strangers as a whole gloss over the technology in your hands (as opposed to staring openly at the book you're reading).

    Sometimes I'm stopped to ask if I like my Kindle (Ab-so-lutely LOVE!) but I have noticed a definite drop in "Why are you reading THAT? I hated that book" or "Insert opinion here". ;) I like my uninterrupted reading!

    I'm also young-ish (26) but even I make my font sizer a little larger than traditional. I have -6.25/-5.75 vision, so even with my coke-bottle glasses, small text is fuzzy!

    YA: Cheat, Liar
    Adult: Shackled

  2. J.E.,
    E-readers are much less obtrusive than physical books. :) I too have have had the "Why are you reading THAT" comments. They drop with ebooks. For some reason half the population wants to mock reading...

    I noticed on airplanes that passengers do not consider reading a book 'doing something.' They would interrupt. But put on Bose headphones and put something electronic in front... and the person who wouldn't let you read a pbook (and wouldn't really say anything either...) would now let me read. :)

    Enjoy the reading,

  3. Hi Neil,
    when I bought a kindle as a gift for a friend the guy (19 year old) said with a big smile on his face, "The kindle has re-kindled my interest in reading..." very interesting comment I thought. It's not just a gadget thing. I really think perhaps our brains have changed a bit and what was once so awkward--reading on a screen, is now no big deal to our brains??? Who knows, but an increase in reading is an increase in reading.

  4. Hi Neil,

    I got some more figures you might like. It looks like things are really taking off in the UK. Everyone had been saying they were a year behind the US, but it's clear now that gap is closing.

    The Publishers Association has revealed staggering e-book growth in the UK in 2010.

    In figures just released today, e-book sales - across all categories - have grown to over £16m ($26m), growing by over 300% on 2009 levels. By end of December 2010, they had captured 6% of the market.

    They didn't release a full breakdown of the figures, but did say that both adult fiction and non-fiction grew by 300%, and, bucking the trend we have seen in the US, children's/YA grew *faster* - by over 500%.

    These figures did not include what the PA calls "consumer reference" digital sales (presumably dictionaries and encyclopaedias etc.) which showed strong sales of £14m ($23m).

    Very interesting.

    Full article here from The Bookseller

  5. David,

    Great find. If UK ebooks were 6% in 2010, it is quite possible they are witnessing the same explosive growth that US ebook sales are witnessing.

    IMHO, it will take a Kindle Tablet to 'crack open,' other international book markets. Once the UK joins the US in being majority ebooks (2013 at the latest), it will 'pull' the rest of the world.

    Will they embrace ebooks, or will we enter an era of 'contraband' ebooks? ;)


  6. Hi Neil,

    Interesting article here on Kobo: