Released: April 5, 2012

Pew study: E-readers have caught on quickly

Here’s what’s happening on the plugged-in side of the digital divide: an extraordinarily swift change in how people are reading books and other media, driven by the rapid acceptance of tablets and e-readers.

More than one in five Americans say they have read a book in electronic form during the last 12 months, according to study to be published Thursday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Nearly 3 in 10 adult Americans now own at least one device designed for electronic reading – either an e-reader such as the Amazon Kindle or a tablet such as Apple’s iPad.

Those figures may not surprise anyone who has ridden a train or been on a plane recently, visited a campus, or hung out in a public space. But Pew, whose focus on e-reading is part of a broader look at how technology is tearing away at and reweaving so much of the modern social and intellectual fabric, is documenting trends that may herald profound change – and large challenges – for society, according to Lee Rainie, director of the Internet project.

“The book has been the fundamental unit of transmitting knowledge for half a millennium,” Rainie said.

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