Did an e-book reader or tablet find its way under your Christmas tree this year? If so, you're in good company. As of November 2012, a third of American adults owned e-readers or tablets, according to a new survey. Two and a half years ago, only three percent of American adults owned such devices.
The Pew Research Center, a nonprofit group that surveys American opinions, recently asked 2,252 people living in the U.S., ages 16 and older about their reading habits. The center's results show a dramatic increase in e-reader and tablet ownership in the U.S., alongside increases in the number of people who appear to have chosen e-books over printed tomes.
E-readers include Kindle and Nook devices, while tablets include iPads, Kindle Fires and similar devices.
Last December, 16 percent of Americans ages 16 or older had read at least one e-book in the last year, and 72 percent had read at least one printed book, Pew found. This year, 23 percent of those surveyed had read an e-book over the previous 12 months, while only 27 percent had read a printed book.
Some people in the U.S. hadn't read books at all, of course — about 25 percent of people ages 16 or older. The number of non-book readers didn't change significantly from 2011 to 2012.
Those who were most likely to have read an e-book over the past year were between the ages of 30 and 49, had college or graduate degrees, and lived in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
Libraries may help spread e-books among households earning less than that. A little more than three-quarters of libraries in the U.S. lend e-books, but the Pew survey found that many Americans may not realize that their local branch lends digital books. Fifty-seven percent of the people the Pew researchers surveyed didn't know whether their library lent e-books, and only five percent of people who had been to a library over the past year had ever borrowed an e-book.