Wither the E-Reader? Tablets gaining as preferred e-reading device according to new BISG/Bowker study.

Dedicated e-readers still preferred, but tablets, particularly Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, are on the rise

A new study by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) puts a twist on the conventional wisdom about ebook consumers, e-readers and tablets. Released today, the study reveals that dedicated e-readers (such as the e-ink Kindle and Nook devices) are losing ground to tablet devices (particularly the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet) as the preferred e-reading device of ebook consumers.

The third volume of the Bowker-powered study “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading” reveals that “power buyers”—defined as “those who purchase ebooks at least weekly”—are making the leap to tablets at a rapid rate. This would seem to counter conventional wisdom that backlit screens are less conducive to voluminous reading.

According to the study, dedicated e-readers are still preferred by power buyers, though they are now preferred by less than half of said buyers, down from more than two thirds a year ago. Meanwhile, preference for a tablet as one’s primary e-reading device has doubled, from 19 percent last year to 38 percent.

What’s interesting to note is that while the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have seen significant gains as first choice e-reading devices (Fire from 0 to 17 percent in the past year; Nook Tablet from 2 percent in August 2011 to nearly 7 percent in August 2012), Apple’s larger form-factor iPad has held steady at 10 percent. The study found that the two most common uses for the iPad are web browsing and sending and reading emails and text messages.

Also significant is the fact that devices designed as vehicles for purchasing books excel at that task, but underperform at other tasks, sometimes significantly.

It will be interesting to note how the just-introduced iPad Mini—Apple’s smaller form function tablet, one that the company is actively positioning as an e-reading device—performs in these categories.

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  • Matt Nicholson

    Isn’t this partly to do with the weather? My wife has both an iPad and a Kindle, and I notice she is using the iPad much more now that the nights are long and the days overcast. She will probably go back to using the Kindle in the summer when the sun is shining and the world is in general a lot brighter.