Half of e-book readers no longer like print books

Some interesting new statistics have come out from a survey of e-book readers, showing that the market remains mainly a novelty and a popular gift choice, and Amazon holds a substantial lead over everyone else.

According to the study, conducted by RR Bowker and discussed on ResourceShelf.com, the Kindle is the most popular device on which to read e-books. 40% said that was their primary e-reading device, while computers came in just behind at 39%.

There is a growing market of people who read e-books but still don’t have an e-reader. These consumers say devices like the Kindle are too expensive but are finding it easier to get content on their mobile phone or computer. That is why it’s important that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders all make their e-book selection available on other devices. Apple’s digital books store, though, remains only available on Apple products.

As such, Apple accounts for a very small chunk of the e-book market. Amazon holds the majority, taking 61% of all e-book purchases, followed by Barnes & Noble at 20%, libraries at 7%, and 5% from Sony.

49% of all e-book customers say they now exclusively or “mostly” buy all their books as e-books. A third of them even said that they would wait months for a new book they wanted if it was only available in print and they had to wait to get it electronically.

However, even though the e-book market is growing, only about half of them are actually earning anyone any money. The other half are free titles that are easily copied over to digital form from the public domain.

The study didn’t look as consumers as an entire group, but rather how people who already use e-books actually use them, and it is telling to see that most of them go for free books but also that their taste for print media is dying away.

There’s sure to still be some resistance. An earlier study of the Kindle DX, which was marketed as a replacement device for college textbooks, found that students hated not having a physical book to dog-ear pages, make highlights, flip through, etc.

So some forms of media may never thrive in the digital market, or at least not for a very long time, but the adoption of e-books is already looking much like the transition from CD-based music to MP3s. There’s no denying that a cataclysmic shift in the book market is currently underway.