E-reader use jumped 34% in past six months

40 million expected in use by 2014, up from 2010's 3 million

In another encouraging sign for publishers who are placing their bets on digital editions, the number of people who own e-readers has jumped 34% in the past six months to nearly 2.8 million, according to GfK MRI's Survey of the American Consumer.

The MRI data released today is the newest supporting the idea that consumers are interested in the new platform. Also today, a consulting firm working for Next Issue Media, an e-reader consortium of five big publishing companies, presented simulated purchase research indicating strong demand for e-readers and digital versions of magazines.

The interest wasn't limited to men and technology titles, which might be surprising to some, said Martin Kon, head of global media & entertainment at Oliver Wyman, who presented the research at a Magazine Publishers of America technology conference. "It's not just men," he said. "Women were just as interested in buying these products."

Oliver Wyman projects that by 2014, 40 million color tablets that support a rich magazine-reading experience will be in circulation, up from 3 million this year. Touch smartphones are predicted to number 131 million, up from 29 million today.

While signs point to greater adoption of e-readers, there are still plenty of unanswered questions, such as whether tablets will become a mass or niche device and if digital reading will grow the print market or cannibalize it.
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