Tablet owners read print newspapers, magazines less often

People who use an iPad or other tablet device read printed newspapers, books and magazines less than they used to, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

Almost one-third (32 percent) of tablet owners say they read printed newspapers less often, according to the market research company’s survey of 210 U.S. adults who own tablets. Interestingly, 8 percent said they read newspapers more often now, while 60 percent said there was no change.

The survey and accompanying analysis report is available only to Forrester clients. But tech blog TechZone360 wrote about the findings, and included this chart.

Magazines also suffer a significant decline, with 23 percent reading them less often.

It’s a mixed picture for books. While 28 percent of tablet owners report reading fewer printed books, they’re also increasing use of e-readers, such as the Kindle or Nook. E-readers gained popularity among 22 percent of tablet owners.

There’s some comfort for publishers in the fact that most early adopters of tablets have maintained their use of printed newspaper and magazines, but significant portions are leaving print, and common sense says that will accelerate as digital technologies grow.

Another recent survey of tablet users found that 58 percent preferred the experience of reading on their tablet over the experience of reading a newspaper, and 57 percent preferred it over a magazine.

The takeaway for news organizations is that a significant chunk of tablet users are unmistakably and measurably moving away from printed products. So the question is, will newspaper and magazine publishers find ways through apps or websites to maintain a relationship with them?

Certainly many are trying to do so by rolling out their own apps with special designs and interactive features. Other publishers have taken smaller steps by creating replica editions that make their print pages viewable on a mobile device.

But publishers face a different kind of competition in the tablet market. On electronic devices, readers don’t have to choose branded, bundled editions. A new class of news readers and curators, such as Flipboard, Pulse, Fluent and Zite, are among the most popular iPad news apps.

Although the latest studies show only 12 percent of the U.S. Internet population owned or used a tablet, that number is expected to jump to 23 percent by early next year. These consumers will form habits and choose favorite news sources as they make the transition to tablets. Is your news organization ready to meet their needs?

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