Thursday, November 18, 2010

New research looks into the habits of e-book buyers

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) just released their Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey, looking into the habits of e-book buyers.

According to BISG's press release, Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading is the first study to capture data from hundreds of book buyers who also identify themselves as e-book readers. Respondents were first surveyed during a 2009-2010 cycle (November 2009 to July 2010) to find out when, why, how and where they purchase and use both e-books and e-readers, providing a baseline measure of impact in a dynamic market. Both the 2009−2010 cycle and the new 2010-2011 cycle are powered by Bowker's PubTrack Consumer.

Here some interesting findings from the 2010-2011 cycle:

- E-book buyers are buying fewer print books: more than 40% of survey respondents say they have reduced the number and dollars spent on hardcover and paperback books.

- So far, iPad shows only marginal impact on the popularity of Kindle and NOOK. It appears that heavy to moderate book buyers want a dedicated device for reading that doesn't have a lot of distractions bundled with it.

-Publishers are declining as a source of information about upcoming e-books, being replaced by retailers.

- Third parties play an important role in device acquisition: survey respondents say they more often received their device as a gift.

- When purchasing for themselves, survey respondents say they are most often motivated by a suggestion from a friend.

This is very interesting, especially as it shows you the cannibalization effect of e-books on physical books. I also wonders if the retailers they talk about as a source of information are mainly online retailers or also brick and mortar bookstores. It would be interested to find it out if e-book buyers go to bookstores to get advice and then go home (or just do it on their mobile phone) and buy the e-book in the cheapest place they find.

I didn't see the full research (prices start from $395 to non-members), but I'm quite sure the research didn't check the green side of e-book buyers' habits, so here are some questions for e-book buyers I hope they can include in the 2011-2012 cycle:

1. If you bought the e-reader, how much did you take into consideration the environmental impact of e-reader when buying it?

2. What the chances are you will read at least 18 books on your e-reader (this is the breaking-even point)?

3. Are you aware of the recycling options offered by the seller of your e-reader?

4. Do you think in general e-books are greener than physical books?

5. How many years you think you will be using your current e-reader?

5. If offered with the same quality and price, would you consider buying a "green" e-reader (one with considerably lower carbon footprint and minimal environmental and social impacts) if such an e-reader will be in the market when you will be looking for your next e-reader?

I'll be curious to see the answers to these questions!

More resources on the e-Books vs. physical books environmental debate can be found on our website at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting Sustainable Reading!