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BISG Reports Games Replacing Ebooks on Tablets, Bowker Says India and Brazil Are Booming

Published on http://www.the-digital-reader.com.

This morning at BEA, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and Bowker presented highlights from a couple of recent surveys. I missed the first part of BISG’s report on its third “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-book Reading” survey, but broadly speaking, Angry Birds (and Words with Friends, and Draw Something, and so on) are taking over.

Reading is still one of the top activities for people with dedicated ereaders or reading-focused tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nook Color. For multi-purpose tablets, however, reading activity takes a backseat to other activities, while mobile gaming comes in first. More troubling for publishers is the news that all tablet activity, not just reading, is replacing traditional book reading for those surveyed.

An audience member pointed out that one reported barrier to entry for would-be ebook consumers is that they can’t share ebooks, and asked BISG’s Len Vlahos what he thought of DRM’s role in that area. Vlahos hedged a bit, saying more studies should be done on DRM’s effectiveness and cost, but he also pointed out that device manufacturers are trying to work around the problem with custom lending solutions. He also noted that 57% of library borrowers report that they go on to buy books based on what they borrow, suggesting that publishers are possibly leaving money on the table by not exploring lending opportunities more aggressively.

Bowker followed up with a report on global trends, which focused largely on internet users in large metropolitan areas. The big takeaways: readers in France and Japan are barely showing any interest in ebooks (although Japan is a special case, because of manga’s popularity in digital form, which wasn’t included in the ebook definition), while India and Brazil are showing some of the strongest interest and activity from consumers.

Bowker says there are four drivers for strong ebook sales in those countries:

  1. they have fast-growing middle classes with discretionary income;
  2. online payment systems in those countries are finally becoming standardized;
  3. traditional print supply chains have always had problems in those countries; and
  4. professional business books are the most popular digital format, which typically don’t have the same translation barriers that fiction has (biz and educational books are frequently sold in English language editions).

Bowker added (after an audience member’s prompt) that China wasn’t surveyed because of the difficulties US and UK companies face when trying to survey consumers in that country, but that he expects China to match India and Brazil.

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