Data Monday: A Shift in E-reading Devices

by Luke Wroblewski May 7, 2012

Though more people are reading e-books each year, the devices they use to consume digital books may be changing. Recent estimates for Amazon's Kindle line seem to highlight a shift from budget eReaders to higher end tablets.

  • One-fifth of American adults (21%) report that they have read an e-book in the past year. This number increased following a gift-giving season that saw a spike in the ownership of both tablet computers and e-book reading devices. (source)
  • Ownership of e-book readers like the original Kindle and Nook jumped from 10% in December to 19% in January and ownership of tablet computers such as iPads and Kindle Fires increased from 10% in mid-December to 19% in January. (source)
  • Since then estimates show a significant drop in Kindle eReader sales following the introduction of Amazon's first tablet computer, the Kindle fire. Kindle eReader sales have fallen at least 75% from 7 million per quarter to 1.74 million per quarter. (source)
  • Amazon's Kindle Fire shipments dropped from 4.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 to less than 750,000 units last quarter. As a result, Amazon went from 16.8% of the worldwide tablet market to just over 4%. (source)
  • At the same time, Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads during the quarter and grew its worldwide share to 68% in 1Q12. (source)
  • Barnes & Noble's best-selling eReader is the Nook Color: an e-reader hybrid tablet. According the the B&N CEO: "once people started using it, it was hard to go back to black-and-white e-readers." (source)
  • The Nook is estimated to account for about 25% of the U.S. e-book market. The Nook helped to cut Amazon's share from what was believed to be 90% to around 60-65%. (source)