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British e-reader readers still not stealing books

Handing over cash for electronic words

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Eight per cent of UK adults have paid money for an electronic book since Christmas, with the average reader getting through 5.75 titles by the end of January.

The figures come from the Publishers Association, who got book industry researchers BML to ask more than 2,000 people about their electronic reading habits and found that 7 per cent of UK adults got some form of e-reader as a Christmas gift, and the majority of those people had managed to download a book or two since then.

Those who got an e-reader for Christmas top the figures, buying (on average) 5.9 books each, while downloaders who had to make do with an iPad or smartphone only bought 5.3 books – though that's still a lot of reading to get though in the 35 days following Christmas.

Those with a dedicated e-reader unsurprisingly downloaded the most, with 84 per cent of them sourcing additional reading material (we assume the remaining 16 per cent are still getting through the pre-loaded content, or can't work out how to get the covers open), but almost 60 per cent of those who received any kind of e-book-compatible device had also downloaded something by way of reading material.

The Publishers Association reckons that's all good news, showing that we're equally prepared to pay for books in electronic or dead-tree form. But it seems more likely the reliance on legitimate sources of material has more to do with ease of use than willingness to pay – the electronic book stores have made buying an electronic book really easy, even for obscure titles, while buying a film in electronic form is often harder than BitTorrenting the same title.

UK consumers are more than happy to pay money for content, but we can't be arsed with having to work around content locks or incompatible formats. Booksellers have made it easier to spend money than steal, which is enough to push most users down the legit route. ®

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