Smartphone Reading Is on the Rise

Smartphone users are used to reading on their phones: texts, tweets, emails, news, social media sites, blogs… but do they also read books?

As part of a two-year consumer study, BookNet Canada asked book buyers whether they read books on their phone and, if so, how frequently. This question was asked of over 1,000 book-buying Canadians per quarter from the beginning of 2012 up until the end of the third quarter of 2013.

We found that over the first three quarters of 2013, the average number of book buyers who read books on their phone was 30%, increasing from 23% in 2012.

Book Buyers Who Read On Their Phones

Among respondents who read books on their phone, the number who do so daily has remained relatively flat over the past two years. However, we found the most significant increase among the number of people who only read books on their phone very occasionally (1-3 times per month or less than once per month). This implies that reading on phones tends to be situationally dependent, or filling a specific need, rather than common practice—after all, is there a better way to spend your time when stuck in the grocery line than diving into a couple of pages of your most recent page-turner?

Frequency of Phone Reading

Among those who are reading electronically, when asked which device they will primarily use to read a recent ebook purchase, the majority of respondents are still using e-readers (56%) followed by reading on a tablet (26%).

Preferred Device for E-Reading

As readers can now move seamlessly through a single book on multiple devices, it will be interesting to see how specific situations (commuting, travel, holidays) will further inform e-reading habits. Will occasional phone reading become the norm while tablets take centre stage as the device of preference? One thing’s for sure: BookNet will be keeping an eye on this trend as we continue with our consumer research studies. Available reports include research on digital content and e-reading for kids and teens, studies of book-buying behaviour in Canada, and a look at consumer attitudes towards books by Canadian authors and about Canadian subjects.