Most E-reader Owners Satisfied, says Study

E-reader users are a very happy lot, according to a new survey by market researcher NPD Group. Nearly all e-reader owners--93 percent, to be exact--say they're "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their devices, and only 2 percent of owners are dissatisfied, the report, e-Reader Owners: Attitudes and Usage, finds.

Wireless Is King

The ability to bypass a PC to download books is a big deal with e-reader owners. According to the study, 60 percent of owners say that wireless access is their favorite feature. That's good news for devices, including the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader Daily Edition, and Apple iPad, that feature built-in Wi-Fi or 3G broadband. It's bad news, however, for e-readers like the Sony Reader Pocket Edition that need a wired PC connection to retrieve books.

Touch input is also a big deal. According to the study, 23 percent of survey participants say touch is their favorite feature.

The NPD survey was conducted online in late November 2009. More than 1,000 e-reader owners participated.

Room for Improvement

While e-reader owners are satisfied, they'd like to see some changes as well. Their most recommended improvements include:

· More book titles (42 percent want this)

· Longer battery life (39 percent)

· Color screens (34 percent)

Nearly half of owners report they're pleased with the selection of books for their device, but just 39 percent say they've been able to find every title they've sought.

Impact on iPad?

It's no secret that Apple is targeting the e-reader market with its new iPad. So what does the NPD study say about the iPad's chances in this genre?

The fact that e-reader owners want more titles is good news for the iPad, which supports the ePub standard for digital books. Since ePub enables publishers to create e-books in a single format for any device that supports the standard, the iPad could very well build up an e-book catalog in a hurry.

E-reader users want color screens: Another plus for Apple. The iPad's 9.7-inch backlit color display is getting rave reviews, and it's bound to dazzle consumers shopping for an e-reader. Then again, the relatively drab E-Ink displays found on the leading e-readers, including the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader, cause less eyestrain and are better for reading book-length content.

Users also want longer battery life: A big minus for Apple. The Kindle goes days between charges, but the iPad lasts 10 hours at the most.

Of course, the e-reader market is very new and wide open at this point. It's intriguing that e-reader owners are so satisfied with the earliest versions of these devices.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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