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E-readers find their place in the home

In making the case for conventional paper books over their electronic counterparts, traditionalists  have often argued that it’s hard to curl up with an e-book. There’s something more personal and just… cozier about the feel of a paper book that you can’t replicate with the digital version.

Well, it seems that more and more people are begging to differ. A Nielsen study on how consumers are using their mobile devices found that 61 percent of e-reader owners are taking their gadget to bed with them, and time spent under the covers now accounts for a whopping 37 percent of total e-reader usage.

And it’s not just e-readers that are making their way into the bedroom. Fifty-seven percent of tablet owners also use their devices directly before lights out, accounting for 21 percent of the total time tablets are used.

However, tablet users are far more likely to use their devices while watching TV, with 70 percent of owners saying they are comfortable multitasking in front of the tube. Not surprisingly, only 35 percent of e-reader owners do the same, proving that it’s harder to concentrate on a good book – even a digital one – while the TV is chirping away in the background.

The Nielsen study, which surveyed some 12,000 mobile device owners, provides useful feedback for electronics manufacturers on how their devices are being used in the real world.

It’s also a wake-up call for any publishers who are still operating under the illusion that e-readers are a passing fad, and that the erosion of traditional print books could somehow be slowed or reversed.

The results of the Nielsen survey come in the wake of last week’s news from Amazon that sales of Kindle e-books are now out-selling hardback and paperback books combined.

Since April 1st, the retailer has sold 105 e-books for every 100 print editions. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that e-book sales exclude free downloads, and the print figures include all the titles where no Kindle versions are available.

As Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, stated: “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly.”

Those who have been insisting on the “uniqueness” of the traditional print book would be the first to agree.

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