Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Beat: Tablets and eReaders See Increased Market Share

This month's Internet Retailer arrived yesterday and it seems impossible to not mention a few stats that the editors had assembled at the back of the mag. I like graphs and stats because they can compress a whole lot of data into a tight, easy to grasp image. A good graph really is worth a thousand words.

The title of the page reads, "E-readers outpace tablets in sales to consumers." The first chart shows how rapidly the e-reader and Tablet devices have been funneling into the market. In 2009 only 2% of the population owned an E-reader like the Kindle. And this is hard to believe but Tablets like the iPad did not even exist yet.

Think about it. Doesn't it seem like iPads have been here forever?

A year later 3% of all Americans, according to Pew Research, owned a tablet. Just a few months later it was 4% and 5% owned a Kindle. By May of this year, this number had grown to 12% owning e-readers and 8% having tablets.

Why is this? First, no doubt it's due in part to price. The iPad has been a $500 item during this span and Kindles around one-third of that. But the versatility of the iPad is worth that extra chunk of change, since Kindles are essentially only good for reading books (Like!) and browsing the online book store. (OK, yes, there are some free games, too.)

A second chart on the page shows the E-reader and tablet market share. Then the third chart shows how cell phones still rule, with 83% of U.S. adults owning one. 57% own a desktop computer, and 56% own a laptop.

But its the growth of the e-readers that is interesting to me. The number of adults who have e-readers (Kindles, Nooks, etc.) actually doubled from November 2010 to May 2011. And with the Kindle dropping to below $100 it shouldn't be long before we see this market penetration double yet again.

What's on your Santa wish list? My guess is that there will be a lot of Kindles under Christmas trees this year.

One of the more interesting stats on the page is the market penetration by race of these two electronic devices. 11% of whites own e-readers and 7% own tablets. African Americans are a smaller percentage, but in the Hispanic community e-readers are owned by 15% of all adults, and so are tablets.

Naturally I have a vested interest in following some of these stats. In September I began publishing my own eBooks through N&L Publishing. This weekend my associate TJ Lind will upload The Breaking Point and Other Stories, my third collection of short fiction, all priced at $1.99 apiece, joining my debut novel The Red Scorpion. All of our books are available on Kindle, Nook and soon the Apple iStore.

An article in Tuesday's edition of PC World outlines some of the reasons why e-readers have become big winners in the tablet wars.

As e-reader prices plummeted, features improved. Released two years after its predecessor, the Kindle 2 was 50 percent thinner, improved battery life by 85 percent, ballooned storage to 2GB from 256MB, and showed 165 shades of gray versus only four shades in the original. Another two years went by and the third-generation Kindle improved on that -- two ounces lighter, 50 percent clearer contrast -- until today, when the Kindle Touch barely resembles the original in looks, feel, or function. Similarly, when the Nook Simple Touch debuted, it blew the original Nook out of the water at more than 4.5 ounces lighter, 25 percent faster, and a huge, two month battery life. Sony, which also just joined the tablet wars, updated its Reader to version PRS-T1, which retails for $149 and is the lightest of the bunch at 5.9 ounces.

Near the end of the article there's a humorous picture of a box of cereal with a big starburst proclaiming "FREE NOOK INSIDE!" That's certainly the direction pricing has been going. Ultimately B&N and are in the book business, and as movie theaters were to Hollywood film producers, so these distribution channels need to be out in the streets in order for their digital wares to find distribution.


There are still some who do not own a Kindle or Nook and prefer reading the old fashioned way. I won't hold it against you. Your kids make poke fun some at you some day, but I won't.

Today is Veteran's Day and I can't let it pass without mentioning my father-in-law's book,

World War II Diaries and Memoirs
536 pages. Illustrated with 178 original photos and documents.

Available at Savage Press:

And There Shall Be Wars.

Read On!

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