January 23, 2012, 8:54 AM

Tablet and e-reader ownership doubles over the holidays

Nearly one in five adults owns a tablet or e-reader, up from one in ten.

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Santa left a lot of e-book readers and tablet computers under the tree this year. New research shows the number of e-book reader and tablet-toting adults nearly doubled following Christmas. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 19% of adults now own a tablet computer and 19% own an e-book reader, according to a survey conducted this month, up from 10% ownership of tablets and 10% ownership of e-book readers shown in surveys conducted in November and concluded Dec. 21. Pew says 9% of adults now own both types of devices.

Pew attributes the jump in ownership to manufacturers lowering prices of devices and introducing new products at lower price points. Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire tablet computer, for example, launched in November and sells for $199, versus Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet, which starts at $499. Several e-book reader models also dropped below $100. Earlier this month, Amazon said it sold more than 4 million Kindle devices (including Fire tablets and its Kindle e-book readers) in December.

The demographic profile of tablet and e-book reader owners shows they tend to be educated and affluent. The highest rates of ownership are among consumers who are college graduates, are age 30-49 and have incomes of $75,000 or more. 36% of adults with incomes of $75,000 or more own a tablet now, and 31% own an e-book reader, up from 22% and 21%, respectively, ahead of the holiday. While the rate of tablet ownership is equal for males and females, there are more women e-book reader owners (21%) than men (16%).

The Pew data come from consumers reached by land-line and mobile phones. Nearly 3,000 participated in the November-December survey and more than 2,000 participated in the January survey.

Older adults also acquired e-book readers and tablets over the holidays. 8% of consumers aged 50-64 owned a tablet computer before Christmas, but that rate leapt to 15% by mid-January. Ownership of e-book readers in the same age range went from 11% before Christmas to 19% by mid-January.

Ownership of e-book readers also jumped significantly among minority groups. 20% of black consumers now own an e-book reader, up from just 5% ahead of the holiday. 19% of Hispanic consumers now own e-book readers, up from 6%. 

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