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OPLIN 4Cast #233: E-book gender issues

Posted in 4cast

Guess what? Men and women are different. While that is obvious in many cases, it may be a little surprising to find that men and women seem to have different preferences and habits when it comes to e-books and e-book readers. Forrester Research has been keeping watch on the digital book market, and our first link below is an article about Forrester’s predictions for that market from 18 months ago. Their most recently released report seems to indicate that they got at least one thing right: women are important to the future of the e-reader business. The fourth article linked below may provide some insight into a problem women may have with the current e-book business model.

  • E-reader growth hinges on women, $99 price tag, says Forrester (eWeek/Michelle Maisto)  “Finally, later adopters—the group with the biggest potential of all—are likely to be women who currently [Aug. 2009] buy or borrow approximately 2.7 books per month. They’re less concerned with having the latest device, they’ll wait for a $149 or $99 price point, and they buy their books from multiple sources. ‘Whereas Amazon was perfectly positioned to sell to the first wave of e-reader adopters, this group may be more likely to buy from a retailer like Wal-mart or Target,’ writes [Forrester Research author Sarah] Rotman.”
  • Female magazine fans flock to Nook Color (New York Times/Jeremy W. Peters)  “On the surface, the reason for the strong performance of female-oriented publications on the Nook is relatively straightforward. Generically speaking, the iPad and other tablets are men’s toys, while the Nook Color and other e-readers are more popular with women. According to data from Forrester Research, 56 percent of tablet owners are male, while 55 percent of e-reader owners are female. Women also buy more books than men do—by a ratio of about 3 to 1, according to a survey last year by Bowker, a research firm for publishers—and are therefore more likely to buy devices that are made primarily for reading books.”
  • Meredith takes an analytical approach to tablets and e-readers (eMedia Vitals/Rob O’Regan)  “What has [women’s publisher Meredith Corp.’s Liz] Schimel’s team learned so far about the user experience? For one, there are distinct differences between users of tablets like the iPad and users of e-readers such as Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Users of tablets, she said, are looking for interactivity in the form of videos or hotspots—basically, more sophistication from a technology point of view. E-reader users, on the other hand, seem happy just to have content that’s portable. ‘The delight factor there is the fact they can get great magazine content on their e-reader device,’ she said.”
  • E-books drive older women to digital piracy (The Telegraph/Christopher Williams)  “One in eight women over 35 who own such devices admit to having downloaded an unlicensed e-book. That compares to just one in 20 women over 35 who admit to having engaged in digital music piracy. News that a group formerly unwilling to infringe copyright are changing their behaviour as e-books take off will worry publishing executives, who fear they could suffer a similar fate to the record labels that have struggled to replace lost physical sales.”

Nook fact:
Barnes and Noble has specifically targeted women in their marketing of the Nook readers, and that strategy seems to have brought them one of their biggest successes. They now claim more than 25% of the digital book market.