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Book Business March/April 2013 : Page 25

behavior. 4 The report surveys show that changes in portable device use continue to influence e book adoption behavior. Just as Amazon’s successful blending of dedicated e-readers with its e-commerce prowess sparked a rise in narrative fic-tion e books, so too are more complex devices beginning to drive nonfiction readers toward the e book format. From early 2010 through mid-2011, dedicated e-readers displaced PCs as respondents’ most preferred device for reading e books. However, the subsequent rise of tablet de-vices—led primarily by Amazon’s Kindle Fire—has changed the field again. The next report, out in March, shows tablets and dedicated e-readers at 43.9% and 42%, respectively. (See Table 1.) The BISG study also provides insights into the book genres most affected by the e book format. Fiction, particularly “guilty pleasure” fiction (e.g., mystery, romance) shows a rise in e book popularity corre-sponding to the dominance of dedicated e-readers through mid-2011. However, while general fiction e books seem to have tapered off with the rise of tablets, other fiction types appear to be recovering as e book-preferred genres. (See Table 2.) Overall, general fiction and mystery/ thriller genres are more highly preferred, at 7.4% and 6.4% above average (63.3% and 62.9%, respectively) among those who have used dedicated e-readers. Cu-riously, however, these two genres are slightly below average among those who have used tablets. Science fiction, on the other hand, is preferred at 6.8% above average (44.2%) by those who have used personal computers to read e-books. 5 The study has not yet shown a de-finitive rise in tablet-driven popularity for nonfiction e books, although these are more popular with those who still read e books on desktop or laptop PCs. This would suggest that publishers have not yet taken full advantage of the interactive ca-pabilities of tablets, which would enhance the non-linear nature of nonfiction books such as travel guides, cookbooks, K-12 textbooks and general reference works. 6 In higher education, BISG’s Student Attitudes study found that digital adoption is much more about integrated learning systems, such as CengageBrain or Pear-son’s MyLab, than it is about simple, nar-rative e books, per se . The relative scarcity of tablets and e-readers and the dominance of laptop and desktop computers, plus the complexity of learning environments in general, are driving the education market in a much different digital direction than trade publishing. Another factor affecting tablets and e book consumption is the fact that these new devices are by definition capable of doing other tasks than ereading. Studies have shown that other activities—stream-ing video, audio, games, general Web browsing and email—have an impact on e book consumption, particularly on the Apple iPad and Android tablets other than Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & No-ble’s NOOK Tablet. However, the Angry Birds argument should not be overstated. Avid book readers appear to be switch-ing from dedicated e-readers to tablets. More importantly, once they experi-ence e book reading, most consumers are buying and reading less print. Devices, Demographics and the Fate of Print E books and the devices needed to read them are more frequently acquired by younger, better educated and more afflu-ent than average consumers. When the BISG study began in 2009, the e book adopter “profile” had higher than average percentages of male, 30-to 44-year-old, employed college graduates with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. Today, women far outnumber men. The other demographic “norms,” while still high, are less so, compared with other age, educa-tion, employment and income groups. For example, respondents over 55 and retirees now make up significantly higher per-centages of e book “Power Buyers” (those who acquire e books at least weekly) than they did in 2010. Younger consumers are still dominant, but the e book adoption landscape is getting flatter. In the short term, this means that print will remain a preferred traditional book format—but for a progressively smaller au-dience. Print’s greatest advantages—com-fort level, lack of technology overhead, lower total cost of ownership—will not survive as device costs drop, and as con-sumer comfort levels with digital increase. Print may in fact find a lasting niche for book consumers—analogous to vi-nyl albums in the recording industry, ▲ Table 1 Table 2 BookBusinessMag.com | APRIL 2013 25

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