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E-Book Buyers Shelving Traditional Book Stores

Empty bookstore . / Credit: Bookstore image via Shutterstock

What's good news for reading is not necessarily good news for national chain bookstores and independent booksellers, a new study shows. While the growing appetite of e-book readers for books in all formats offers a glimmer of hope that traditional reading is not heading toward the endangered list, their popularity comes at the expense of bricks-and-mortar retailers. The real growth is in online and in-app purchasing.

More than half of e-book buyers have increased their use of apps to purchase books and more than one-third have increased their use of general websites such as Amazon, according to an on-going study by the Book Industry Study Group, which samples opinions of more than 1,000 book buyers each month. But more than a third of e-book buyers decreased their spending at national chains and 29 percent said they were buying less from their local independent stores

"The e-book market is developing very quickly, with consumer attitudes and behavior changing over the course of months, rather than years," said Angela Bole, BISG's deputy executive director. "One of the strengths of this study is its ability to monitor ‘Power Buyers.’ They are predictors of where the market is moving, providing us with an ideal opportunity to look at what’s coming next."  

[Why Wired Is Wrong About E-Books: Digital Reading is Ready for Primetime]

Power buyers are those who acquire e-books at least weekly, according to BISG's definition.

Though dedicated e-readers remain the dominant e-reading platform, especially among Power Buyers, multifunctional tablet devices and smartphones are gaining in popularity, the survey found. Almost 17 percent of respondents indicated that tablets were the devices most used to read e-books, up from 13 percent in the previous survey.

Smartphones also continued to grow in popularity for reading e-books, jumping from 5.3 percent to 9.2 percent. Dedicated e-readers were preferred by 60.9 percent of all respondents, down from 71.6 percent in the earlier survey.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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