CNet reports on a Harris Interactive poll that says 8% of American adults are now using e-readers, and another 12% expect to buy one within the next six months. (8% aren’t sure and 80% are not likely to do so.)
The poll also noted that current e-reader owners are significantly more likely than average to buy a book:
Among the e-reader users polled, 17 percent said they bought between 11 and 20 e-books, while 20 percent purchased 21 or more over the past year. By contrast, 11 percent of all Americans bought between 11 and 20 books last year, while 12 percent bought more than 21.
Only 8 percent of the e-reader audience said they bought no books this past year, compared with 21 percent of people in general who acknowledged the same.
Also, 53% of e-reader owners read more now than they did six months ago—compared to 18% of those who don’t own e-readers.
The CNet article doesn’t really follow up the implications of this survey, but it seems pretty clear to me that if publishers really want to sell more books, they’d better lose their reluctance and throw all their weight behind selling e-book readers and getting those device prices to come down. The more people own them, the more are likely to buy more books. And the more e-books publishers sell, the less print overhead they have to carry.
But on the other hand, perhaps I’m getting cause and effect reversed. It might not be that e-book readers make people want to read more, but that the people likeliest to read more are the ones who will also most want to purchase e-book readers. It’s an interesting question, and probably not one that will be be answered in the near future.