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Another Editor
02-10-2012, 03:34 AM
A market research and "audience analysis" company did a survey about "tech envy"; specifically, the attitudes that people have towards tech that they did not own at the time that they took the survey. Some of their findings are relevant to e-readers.

The survey's executive summary is here: http://officepulse.captivate.com/techenvy/tech-envy-report-summary

Here are the raw results:
http://officepulse.captivate.com/techenvy/tech-envy-press-release

And here is everything summed up in a neat little infographic:
http://officepulse.captivate.com/techenvy/tech-envy-infographic-2

Some of the highlights:

People are more likely to be envious of tablet and e-reader owners than they are of those who own HSTVs or smart phones, on the order of 37% (I'm rounding here) vs 24% or 11%. Moreover, seeing a co-worker who has an e-reader or a tablet is very likely (39% to 59%) to make someone want to know more about them. (The same section, however, says that the typical respondent to the survey saw, on average, 3.6 people with smart phones per day. I see twice that number of people using smart phones on public transportation every time I ride it.)

Yet, 73% of the respondents said that the smartphone was their favorite technology (out of smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and HDTV).

The most common places for the use of tablets and e-readers were at home, while commuting, and at their desks at work. The laundromat gets honorable mention.

The top brands were not very surprising: for tablets, it's the iPad; for e-readers, it's the Kindle.

Women lead the way in e-reader use, and they prefer the Kindle. Of the people who desire an e-reader, 59% of them want a Kindle and 20% of them want a Nook.

What this all means is that tablets and e-readers are still a growth market, since it is evident that more people who do not already have them, want them; it follows that electronic books are a growth market as well, since you have to use those devices for something (accepting that, of course, tablets are useful for more than just reading e-books).

The large portion of respondents who use their tablets and e-readers at work suggests that a good way to tap into that core market would be to publish more books that are immediately useful to people in the workplace. This favors non-fiction. However, the large proportions of users who use such devices at home and while commuting doesn't favor any kind of book over any other.

Now, I will couch all of this with the usual caveat about statistical research. It is only as good as the sample (that is, the people who took the survey). They polled 580 people, which is large enough to be considered a statistically reliable sample. I would shy away from reading too much in differences under 5%, however (that's the basic variance when you have a sample of 400, if my memory of my college stats course serves me right). All of the people polled live in "major metropolitain centers" across the US and Canada; this does not represent the entire population very well, if "major metropolitan center" means a city or cluster of adjoining cities with 1 million or more people in it. Also, the survey was done entirely online; drawing from a pool of 4,000 people who regularly respond to surveys made by this company; this is not a random sample. The survey company seems to focus on what could be called "office culture" for companies who market to that particular demographic.

It is a very interesting look at one specific demographic of people who use devices that are used to read e-books. If e-reader and tablet use is growing among them, then it is more or less safe to assume that it is ripe to grow within the general population at large. It would be nice if they did this about physically printed books one of these days so we could compare.

John R. Gambit
02-15-2012, 10:54 AM
I never envy people with e-readers. Pfft. I stalk them, murder them, and steal their e-readers.

Another Editor
02-15-2012, 04:46 PM
An inherent weakness in quantitative market research methods: the full spectrum of consumer reactions cannot be accounted for. Who knows how many respondents or their co-workers are being stalked and murdered right now…