Number of Adults in U.S. Who Use E-Books Topped 50 Million in 2012
STAMFORD, CT, Apr 18, 2013—Simba Information, the market research firm specializing in publishing and media, has released the fifth edition of its Trade E-Book Publishing report series, which has closely followed the digital book market since 2009. While the fourth edition correctly predicted what is widely referred to as the '2012 slowdown' in e-book adoption, the data in Trade E-Book Publishing 2013 shows that the number of e-book users did climb in 2012 to pass 50 million adults, but how they use e-books, what devices are used, what extent they buy and how much money they spend on content has changed to make the industry a lot tougher to navigate.
"In the last edition, we noted the gap between e-book 'users' and e-book 'buyers' grew wider than expected, and that was the warning sign a lot of people ignored in 2011," said Michael Norris, senior analyst of Simba Information's Consumer Media & Technology division, commenting on the report. "Not only did the gap grow even wider in 2012, but the average amount of money spent by a given e-book buyer didn't rise [between 2011 and 2012], which makes what a lot of people think was a simple 'slowdown' in adoption a lot more complex."
The book industry also saw, surprisingly enough, an increase in the percentage of adults who purchased a paperback title, but at this point it is not know if that is a sign things are materially getting better for print or if it is simply what Norris referred to as the '50 Shades of Gray factor' -- referring to the runaway erotic trilogy by E.L. James that was a major hit in print and digital form.
The children's and YA market continues to be rooted in print but both formats have shown strength in 2012: About 23% of all adults bought at least one children's/YA print book in 2011 while just 4% purchased a children's or YA e-book, a figure which reached about 25% of adults buying at least one children's/YA print and about 5% buying at least one children's/YA e-book. A "good number" of adults are buying children's/YA e-books to read for themselves, said Norris, citing the popularity of series such as Twilight and The Hunger Games among adults.