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Women snap up e-readers as men dominate tablets


In the world of mobile devices, gender divides are now showing up with e-readers and tablets, with women gravitating toward the former while men still dominate ownership of the latter.

The latest Nielsen data reveals 61 percent of e-reader owners are women, up from 46 percent not quite a year ago (third quarter 2010). Men make up 57 percent of tablet owners, dropping from 61 percent during the same time period.

Looks like the ladies are behind the surge of e-reader buying that has also propelled e-books above traditional, print books. In a recent story by colleague Suzanne Choney, she reports, "last year, 114 million e-books were sold — a 1,039 percent increase since 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group said in a recently released survey. In contrast, 603 million 'trade hardcover' books — both fiction and non-fiction — were sold last year, a 5.8 percent increase since 2008."

E-reader buying, in general, seems to be up, with the continuing battle between Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook, along with an influx of other competitors (Aluratek, Velocity and Pandigital all make devices too). In another story by Choney, she reports that e-reader ownership made it to the double digits for the first time this spring (12 percent), while only 8 percent of Americans were tablet owners.

Older Americans (ages 55 and over) also seem to be reaching a comfort zone with e-readers and tablets, with increases in ownership of both, as can be seen in the chart below, with the biggest gain in tablets from 10 percent to 19 percent from fall 2010 to spring 2011.


Why do you think women prefer e-readers? Do we like to streamline our lives and stick to dedicated devices? Do we like the simplicity of the e-reader, even though we know the tablet can be used as a reader, too? GigaOM's Ryan Kim has some ideas: "Does this confirm that women like book reading more, as research suggests, or do they just prefer a lighter device or perhaps a simpler, single-purpose gadget? And do guys just want more horsepower and complexity, or do they prefer more games?"

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