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Today saw the publication of a new report from Pew Research on the reading and e-reading habits of citizens of the USA. entitled “E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps“.
We have to be careful, however, about the danger of hyperbole – note the careful use of ‘rises’ for e-reading and ‘jumps’ for device ownership. This is clearly deliberate because the report finds that, The percentage of adults who read an e- book in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012., in other words, a rather modest 5% increase, while reading print books also increased, by 4%, from 65% to 69%, suggesting that e-books still have a long way to go before the can be called a really serious contender.

And the ‘jump’ in device ownership? That, perhaps is more significant, since ownership of e-readers rose from 19% in November 2012 to 32% in January 2014 – 13% in little over a year and 8% since as recently as September, 2013. Ownership of tablet computers rose from 24% in November 2012 to 42% in January 2014, again with 8% of that increase since September, 2013. Overall, 50% of the US population has either a tablet or an e-reader, a 25% increase since 2012. Of course, if you have a tablet or an e-reader you are more likely to read e-books and it may be that we shall see a further rise in 2014 in the proportion of people reading e-books, but I suspect it will keep on merely ‘rising’, rather than ‘jumping’.

Recently, the news has been indicating a rise in e-reading in other places; for example, in the Netherlands it is reported that 2013 saw a 60% rise in e-book titles, contributing 3.2% to total revenue from book sales. In unit terms, 1.95 million e-books were sold, compared with 1.2 million in 2012. More on that story, for those who read Dutch, at Boek Blad