kindleEmarketer has an interesting piece suggesting that e-reader usage is still growing over time. In particular, it predicts the number of e-reader users will grow by 3.5% by the end of this year, to 86.3 million people. The statistics also suggest there will be almost 6 and a half million more e-reader users by the end of 2020.

The Emarketer article notes that people 65 and older are especially interested, given e-readers’ “lower price point and single-focus functionality.” Tablets’ market share is about twice that size, growing 4.7% this year to 166.7 million users, and for the first time this year more than half of the US population will use a tablet. The age of tablet users tends to skew lower, while e-reader users tend to skew higher.

ereader-statsThe interesting thing here is that these statistics seem to be at odds with other statics I found showing e-reader sales falling drastically since 2011. But the statistics may not be so contradictory after all. Given that it doesn’t take that much processing power to read an e-book, and e-readers haven’t improved that much year over year, it seems likely that most people who have older e-readers aren’t seeing the need to replace them. Hence, a larger-than-usual portion of those sales that are still taking place might be to new users.

It’s interesting to see that e-readers still have a strong following, even as tablets are now more popular. If these statistics can be believed, fully half as many people use e-readers as tablets—so they could well be around for some time to come.


  1. Although I don’t use it that often, I am impressed with the practicality of my now-ancient Kindle 3. Devices dedicated to one purpose can be handy and distraction-free. They’re a bit like writing on a Alphasmart Neo. On one, almost all you can do is read. On the other, all you can do is write.

    If the vague language that Amazon sent along with their most recent upgrade—the one with the March ‘death to downloads if you don’t upgrade now’ notice—a Kindle can now read ebooks with fancier formatting. Amazon apparently hasn’t forgotten those who see no reason to upgrade, it just doesn’t say much about that.

    The problem with e-paper readers is that there’s little real variety in size and thus use. Unless there’s a speciality market I don’t know about, no one makes a larger screen version suitable for viewing documents intended for 8.5×11 or the European A4 size. A lot of scientific, medical and legal documents come in PDFs with those sizes. Reading them on a 7″ screen doesn’t work that well, particularly for the double or triple-column documents in small type. Nor is there one suitable for pockets smaller than adult coat pockets.

    I’d love to see a rugged but cheap epaper reader that fits in a kid’s pocket and doesn’t bother with all the chit-chat and markup features that some adults go for.

    Computers have long had different size displays and smartphones now come in a variety of screen sizes. I can’t understand why epaper readers are stuck in one size. It may be the best size, but it shouldn’t be the only size.

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