E-reader ascendant

Which new kind of gadget was the biggest sales sensation of the tech world in the first half of 2011? The tablet, right?

Wrong. According to a new survey, the real phenomenon of recent times is the e-reader. The research, by the Pew Research Center, reveals that 12% of American adults own an e-reader, be it an Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony E-Reader or lesser-known brand. That's up from just 6% last November. 8% own a tablet, a respectable number given their greater cost, but notably less than their basic reading-driven cousins.

Sure, e-readers are cheap, and that obviously helps. But it seems they're also proving popular with older buyers, and appeal more to women than tablets. Furthermore, interestingly, 3% of Americans own both, suggesting that tablets aren't quite convincing people as a way of reading.

This isn't a total surprise - a quick look around a tube train at rush hour demonstrates that the Kindle, in particular, has become ubiquitous in the UK too among people who don't see themselves as tech-heads. But because of their low-tech style, e-readers haven't quite been given the credit they deserve as a tech phenomenon. So step aside, iPad: for now at least, we're declaring King Kindle the new darling of the gadget world.

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