Commentary

Tablet, E-reader Owners Also Print Junkies

Nook-Color-e-reader

People who are heavy print magazine and newspaper readers might seem like the last ones to embrace gadgets like tablets and e-readers. But new research from Gfk MRI shows tablet owners are 66% more likely than the average U.S. adult to be big print magazine consumers and 54% more likely to be heavy print newspaper readers. Similarly, e-reader owners are 23% more likely to be print magazine enthusiasts and 63% more likely to get newsprint on their hands.

For the magazine publishers that have unveiled tablet editions in the last year, that suggests they're not necessarily reaching an entirely new audience but capturing attention largely from existing readers. If that's the case, then Time's "Digital Everywhere" strategy is a good fit for both tablets and e-readers. In May, the publisher worked out a deal with Apple to give print subscribers free access to iPad magazine editions, starting with Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated.

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What are people actually reading on their devices, though? Among tablet owners, 57% on average read a book in the last six months, 39% a magazine, and 41% a newspaper. When it comes to people with e-readers, 87% have read a book, 15% a magazine, and 14% a newspaper. So tablets, not surprisingly, are used more as multipurpose media devices than e-readers.

The Gfk MRI study also found that women are more likely to be e-reader owners than men and vice versa for tablets. Women are 52% more likely to have an e-reader, and 63% more likely to own a Kindle, and twice as likely to own a B&N Nook. Men are 24% more likely to own a tablet, and 16% more likely to own an iPad. The consumer research firm suggested the gender difference stem from men being more focused on impressing others by having the latest, coolest gear. Tablets better suit that purpose than e-readers. It could also be women are more avid book readers than men.

The Gfk findings follow on the heels of a Pew Research Center this week showing e-reader adoption in the last six months has doubled to 12%, while tablet penetration stands at 8%. The report noted Hispanics tend to be one of leading demographic groups when it comes to uptake of both types of devices.

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