A new report from the Cleantech Group (available for purchase or to Cleantech clients) takes on a big question: Are the Kindle and other eReaders really "green"?
In Forrester's surveys, we've found that of US online adults who are interested in eReaders, 51% say they're interested because they think that eReaders are "better for the environment." But I've often wondered if consumers just believe that eReaders are green, or if they really are.
Today CourseSmart, a joint venture of five of the biggest textbook publishers, is launching an iPhone app to augment its Web subscription service for eTextbooks. Its subscription service offers access to more than 7,000 textbooks, at an average of 50% off print prices. Currently, CourseSmart has a few hundred thousand student subscribers, out of a potential addressable market of 13 million US college students (they only target higher education, not K-12, for now).
The iPhone app is nice, with a snappy thumbnail browse feature. It's not something you'd read on, per se, but offers easy access to look up something, search for something, or access your notes. Having the option of mobile access will undoubtedly increase the appeal of CourseSmart's subscription service, assuming the company is successful at marketing the new feature.
Currently, CourseSmart's content isn't integrated into the Kindle or other dedicated reading devices; this app marks its first move into increasing access to eTextbooks on any kind of mobile device. Maintaining print-identical formatting and pagination is a crucial aspect of its product; eReading devices aren't ready to support this type of content yet, but the iPhone is a move that makes sense.
Just a quick note to say that we've got a new report up on the changing demographics of eReader buyers: "Who Will Buy An eReader?," available in full to Forrester clients.
First, eReader interest and awareness is definitely growing, as you can see:
Second, the types of consumers likely to buy an eReader are changing. While early adopters of eReaders were a perfect storm of demographics for Amazon (they could afford the device, they have a need for the device in business travel and urban commuting, they like technology, and they buy lots of books online), future prospects for the devices look completely different. They're more likely to be female, less tech optimistic, and they read a lot (on average, 5 books per month) but they buy and borrow books from multiple sources, as opposed to buying lots of books online.
The big takeaway is that this could spell trouble for Amazon, if competitors can move in to better serve the later waves of adopters who don't have as strong a relationship with the eCommerce giant.
I've heard from clients that they're already seeing this shift--more women buying the devices and shopping for eBooks. Looking forward to continuing the discussion...