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Reading books on e-readers, tablets and smartphones in Germany 2016-2020

The number of German consumers who read books on electronic devices such as e-readers, tablets or smatphones is increasing. The question is which device holds the winning share in this development, and which will be used most long-term.

Mobile reading

As mobility among the German population continues to increase, along with the simultaneous desire to be able to consume digital and online content on flexible terms at home, so does the demand for electronic devices enabling reading anywhere without having to take along multiple books. In terms of reading longer texts on screen or on paper, the largest share of consumers still preferred to do so on paper. However, it should be noted that this share is decreasing, while the ranks of those who would like to read on a screen is gradually rising. The household ownership of electronic devices that satisfy the aforementioned demands showed that while smartphones were available in the overwhelming majority of German homes, tablets were lower down on the list, and e-readers even more so. All the same, when looking at which devices were most used, e-readers rounded up the top three.

E-book purchases

Various predictions about the German e-book market have been made, though this is still a young industry and therefore it’s being evaluated to collect more data over time. Currently literary fiction revenue from e-books is expected to reach 292 million euros in 2020. The number of German readers buying e-books is increasing.

Number of people who read books on electronic devices (e-reader, tablet-PC, smartphone) at least occasionally in Germany from 2016 to 2020

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period

2016 to 2020

Age group

14 years and older

Special properties

German-speaking population

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

Information on mean sample:
Base: German-speaking population aged 14 and older in private households at main place of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Information on total sample:
2016: 23,854 respondents, projection to 69.56 million persons
2017: 23,356 respondents, projection to 70.09 million persons
2018: 23,389 respondents, projection to 70.45 million persons
2019: 23,318 respondents, projection to 70.60 million persons
2020: 23,191 respondents, projection to 70.64 million persons

Find more information on the methodology of this survey here.

The survey question was phrased by the source as follows until 2015: "Here is a list of different attributes. Could you please look at it and select the ones that apply to you? - I read books on electronic devices, such as e-readers, tablet PCs or smartphones, at least occasionally." (original German question: "Hier stehen verschiedene Eigenschaften. Könnten Sie die bitte einmal durchsehen und mir die nennen, wo Sie sagen würden: Das passt auf mich, das trifft auf mich zu?" - Ich lese zumindest gelegentlich Bücher auf elektronischen Geräten, wie E-Readern, Tablet-PCs oder Smartphones.")
From 2015 onwards: "One can download books as a file, so-called e-books, onto electronic reading devices to read them on the device. How is it for you, would you be interested in reading books as an electronic file, or do you already do so, or are you not interested?"

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Statistics on "E-books in Germany"

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