People are increasingly reading books on their iPhones

By March 4, 2009Content

From O’Reilly radar:

At least as measured in terms of number of unique applications, Books have grown the fastest over the last 12 weeks. (Data for this post limited to apps on the U.S. iTunes store through 3/1/2009.)

Most of these books are free, but an increasing number are paid for, including many at over $10.

Across this and the Kindle 2 I think we are seeing the beginning of the end for dead tree books.

  • jamesrbmoore

    I read an interesting article in The Economist recently on this topic: http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory….

    Steve Kessel, one of the Amazon Kindle team claims “Kindle users buy just as many bound books as before, so that their total consumption of books goes up by 2.6 times”, that is until e-readers and available titles on those devices become more ubiquitous. With users willing to pay for titles in their digital form, it seems that publishers are better placed than record labels to maintain revenues upon that industry's shift to digital consumption of content.

    More worrying is the future of the printed newspaper industry. With the announcement of the departure of News Corp's COO underlining the generational shift of their revenues from print to digital (with Film, TV and online making up the bulk of their revenue stream and their newspaper businesses now the walking wounded), could products such as the reader that Plastic Logic is developing provide a suitably tactile replacement for the morning's broadsheet?

  • Thanks James – I think you are right in suggesting that the paper printed newspaper may not be with us forever.

  • I read an interesting article in The Economist recently on this topic: http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13109804

    Steve Kessel, one of the Amazon Kindle team claims “Kindle users buy just as many bound books as before, so that their total consumption of books goes up by 2.6 times”, that is until e-readers and available titles on those devices become more ubiquitous. With users willing to pay for titles in their digital form, it seems that publishers are better placed than record labels to maintain revenues upon that industry’s shift to digital consumption of content.

    More worrying is the future of the printed newspaper industry. With the announcement of the departure of News Corp’s COO underlining the generational shift of their revenues from print to digital (with Film, TV and online making up the bulk of their revenue stream and their newspaper businesses now the walking wounded), could products such as the reader that Plastic Logic is developing provide a suitably tactile replacement for the morning’s broadsheet?

  • I'm intrigued by the stats Nic and thanks for sharing.

    At first, you could conclude that the Kindle & Iphone will replace books if one were to extrapolate this data over the next X years etc. However, on inspection we need to remember that this is Iphone owner data and Iphone owners are a unique crowd – ie early adopters, tech feature hungry etc comprising 4% of the market.

    In 1972 there were 5 known elvis impersonators, by 1980 there were over 10,000. On the basis of this data, 1 in every 2 people on the planet would be an Elvis impersonator! 🙂

    The moral being that Kindle & Iphone are great platforms for books and this market will grow, however there let's not forget the 96% who prefer the old fashioned printed dead tree variant.

  • In my house, I have about 3,000 books collected over 35 years (although I confess I don't read the Hungry Caterpillar as much as used to.)

    I have 50 VHS cassettes. A dozen vinyl records. I have cassettes.3.5″ floppy disks. 5.25″ floppies. I have movies on DVD that a hardware industry is trying to render obsolete.

    I can't help but think that this is a way by clever publishers and retailers to get me to buy my books all over again.

    Clever blighters.

  • Hi Nicholas – I wonder if in the future people will still want to fill their houses with books. There will be other easier ways to show people what you like to read (and have read) and then you can use the space for something else!

    Ownership becomes an interesting question as well. We might not need to 'own' books if we subscribe to a service which makes them always available to our digital devices.

  • I'm intrigued by the stats Nic and thanks for sharing.

    At first, you could conclude that the Kindle & Iphone will replace books if one were to extrapolate this data over the next X years etc. However, on inspection we need to remember that this is Iphone owner data and Iphone owners are a unique crowd – ie early adopters, tech feature hungry etc comprising 4% of the market.

    In 1972 there were 5 known elvis impersonators, by 1980 there were over 10,000. On the basis of this data, 1 in every 2 people on the planet would be an Elvis impersonator! 🙂

    The moral being that Kindle & Iphone are great platforms for books and this market will grow, however there let's not forget the 96% who prefer the old fashioned printed dead tree variant.

  • In my house, I have about 3,000 books collected over 35 years (although I confess I don't read the Hungry Caterpillar as much as used to.)

    I have 50 VHS cassettes. A dozen vinyl records. I have cassettes.3.5″ floppy disks. 5.25″ floppies. I have movies on DVD that a hardware industry is trying to render obsolete.

    I can't help but think that this is a way by clever publishers and retailers to get me to buy my books all over again.

    Clever blighters.

  • Hi Nicholas – I wonder if in the future people will still want to fill their houses with books. There will be other easier ways to show people what you like to read (and have read) and then you can use the space for something else!

    Ownership becomes an interesting question as well. We might not need to 'own' books if we subscribe to a service which makes them always available to our digital devices.