Surprising Numbers from Simba Information's The iPad and Its Owner 2014
Michael Norris is an independent consultant specializing in consumer media and retail.
Only half of iPad owners read ebooks on their devices, according to Simba Information’s latest study, The iPad and Its Owner: Key Trends and Statistics 2014. The study is Simba’s second publication on iPad usage and is the culmination of a proprietary, nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults. The big takeaway from The iPad and Its Owner is that access to ebooks on tablets does not translate to ebook purchases.
Simba Information found that the number of ebook consumers among iPad owners grew slightly over the past year, but attributes that to the general growth of iPad ownership (6.6% of adults in 2010 to 20% today). Despite this increased consumption, the amount spent on ebooks has dropped.
According to the study, Kindle Fire ebook consumption is more robust. 75.2% of Kindle Fire owners read ebooks on their devices, but Simba Information does not anticipate that number will grow. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it dips into the 60s by February,” says Simba senior analyst Michael Norris, “as a lot of emphasis on the product now has to do with movies, film and streaming.”
The most surprising survey result indicates that iPad owners tend to read print more than the average adult. 56.2% of adults didn’t buy a single paperback book in the last 12 months, while only 44.4% of iPad owners did not purchase paperbacks. In the realm of hardcover, 15% of iPad owners read 10 or more hardcovers in the last year compared to 11% of adults.
Norris emphasizes that iPad owners tend to consume all forms of media more frequently—print and ebook alike—and publishers must find a way to capitalize on this valuable demographic.
You can purchase the full report here.
Straight From the Editor's Mouth
Michael Norris, senior editor and analyst at Simba Information, has spent much of the last three years gathering and studying data on iPad and tablet usage in relation to reading habits. As a result, he has gained insights into the industry that add weight to the numbers shared in his latest study. Here are just a few things publishers should take into consideration as they review The iPad and Its Owner.
On how the survey was conducted: “Because we conduct a nationally representative survey, we look at the book market from the bottom up instead of top down. A lot of analysts like to look at people who own 10 or more books, who own the tablets, who own the Kindle, and use that as a way to narrow down who they ask. It’s better to find out if people are buying or reading books at all. . . When we do it our way, we find there are 100 million adults in the US who haven’t bought a single solitary book in the past year. That’s a number the industry has to pay attention to sooner or later.”
On the future of ebook devices: “In August of 2012 we found out that about 15% of ebook users had used the Kindle Fire and 28% had used the E Ink Kindle, and that by June 2013 it was split 24% and 24%. Obviously you see that as E Ink devices are replaced or break, a lot of people are replacing them with Fires, and I think this trend will continue and make it a lot tougher for publishers to adapt. The best days of the dedicated ereading device are over.”
On the value of print and bookstores: “There is a lot of potential for figuring out a way to exploit the fact that most book consumers read and consume both print and digital. There has to be a way to target that person and get them to spend more, get them to talk about the book more and hopefully try to get the physical book browsing experience to match up with the digital book consumption experience.
“The most dysfunctional thing happening in books right now is that people walk into a bookstore, get the expertise from a bookseller, and go home and buy the book on their Kindle. That can’t go on forever for obvious reasons.
“Simba theorized that in early 2011 if Borders were to go out of business, we would see a less energized ebook market the next year. That came true. We don’t know to what extent our prediction was correct in terms of what was the role, but we think that when 650 bookstores from Borders disappear, never to be replaced again, it makes an impact on book discovery.”
Related story: Do Tablet Owners Read Ebooks?