In the December 2011 survey and follow-up surveys of January 2012 there was major growth in ownership of e-reading devices like Kindles and Nooks and in tablet computer ownership. In the January survey, we found that 21% of urban residents, 20% of suburban residents, and 14% of rural residents had tablets. There was not notable variance by community type in the timing of those purchases.

On the other hand, urban, suburban, and rural e-reader owners show some variations. Some 19% of urban dwellers own such e-readers, 19% of suburban residents own such devices, and 14% of rural residents own them. Among e-reader owners, urban residents are more likely than those in the suburbs or rural areas to be recent purchasers, past 30 days (13% urban vs. 6% suburban, 8% rural). Roughly two in 10 e-reader purchasers bought within the past six months, three in 10 purchased within the past 12 months, and another three in 10 purchased more than 12 months ago.

Who intends to buy either device?

When looking at non-owners of these devices, rural residents are most likely to report no plans to purchase either an e-reader or tablet computer in the near future while urban residents are more likely than their rural counterparts to say they plan to purchase a tablet computer within the next six months.

Why people don’t own these devices

There are very few substantive differences in the reasons respondents give for why they don’t own e-readers or tablet computers, and where there are differences, they are related to demographic variation across community types.  Those in rural areas are more likely than others to say they are “too old” (5% vs. 1% urban, 2% suburban) or that they “don’t want to learn a new device” (6% vs. 4% urban, 3% suburban), or simply indicate they “don’t know” why they don’t want an e-reader (8% vs. 3% urban, 4% suburban). Suburban residents are more likely than rural residents to say they already have too many devices (21% vs. 15%), while urban residents are more likely than those in the suburbs to cite cost-related reasons (28% vs. 23%) for why they don’t own a tablet computer.