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E-Readers on the Rise

The FCC has frequently emphasized the rise in tablet and smart phone sales vs. PCs as more evidence of the growing demand for broadband spectrum, but the e-reader (Kindles and the like) could figure more prominently in that accounting.

According to a just-released Pew Research Center survey, e-reader ownership has doubled since November 2010 to 12% of U.S. adults 18-plus. That means e-readers top tablets, which are in the hands of 8% that same adult population, according to the survey, only slightly above the 7% who owned them in January 2010.

E-reader ownership is highest among college graduates, at 22%, and higher among those under 50 than over.

It is also the first time that laptops (owned by 56% of the demo) have been as popular as desktops (57%) in the survey, adding another piece of ammunition to the FCC's push for mobile as the trending technology in Internet access.

For both e-readers and tablets, growth has been fastest among Hispanics, who have the highest tablet ownership at 15%. Ownership also skews toward households with incomes above $75,000.

E-readers and tablets still lag behind other tech devices, though Pew points out those others have been around a lot longer. Cell phones top that list at 83%, followed by desktops at 56%, DVR's at 52% and MP3 players at 44%.

The survey was conducted April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults 18-plus, by landline and cell phone. The study can be accessed at the Pew website.