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E-reader ownership explodes past tablets, says Pew

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Forget paperbacks: The number of people who own e-readers has skyrocketed to more than double what it was only six months ago, according to a recently published study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Tablets have also become more popular, the study shows, but more slowly than its more moderately featured brethren.

Between November 2010 and May of this year, the percentage of adults in the United States who own any type of e-reader, like Amazon’s Kindle devices or Barnes and Noble’s Nook readers, has grown from 6 percent to 12 percent. This represents the first time e-reader ownership has entered in to double-digit percentages since Pew began surveying for these types of devices in April 2009.

Tablets, like Apple’s iPad 2 or the Motorola Xoom, are on the way up, as well, but not as drastically as e-readers. In fact, the growth is almost at a standstill: Pew has seen a mere 3 percent increase in tablet ownership since November 2010, from 5 percent to 8 percent in May. Since January, the tablet sector has only grown by 1 percent. Not only that, but the tablet market already seems to be slowing down.

The study shows that there is”notable overlap” in e-reader and tablet ownership, says Pew: Of the 12 percent that own e-readers, about 3 percent also own a tablet computer.

Pew also found tablet adoption numbers are lower than that of any device; e-reader ownership is the second lowest. On top is, not surprisingly, cell phones, which are owned by a whopping 83 percent of the US adult population. This is followed by desktops (57 percent), laptops (56 pecent), DVR devices (52 percent) and MP3 players (44 percent).

So while we may in fact be headed into the “post-PC” era, these numbers show that we are quite far from fully arriving at that destination.

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Andrew Couts
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