The questionnaires were filled out by the visitors of the Budapest International Book Week, on location, anonymously, between 24th and 27th April. Even though the sample was not on a national scale, the responses indicate interesting results and tendencies, as the analysis of the responses show. The research report was carried out by TÁRKI Social Research Institute Ltd.

The questionnaire included the following main topics: awareness and utilization of e-books and e-book reader devices, consumer decisions between the purchase of electronic or paper-based editions, availability of e-books and in case they are unavailable, the use of illegal sources.

The survey participants were mostly women (71%) and those with higher education (68%). Distribution by age groups was balanced, most of the respondents are in the 31-44(30%) and the 18-30(28%) age groups..

Dr. Miklós Bendzsel, Vice Chairman of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office commented that „the survey results show that e-books are becoming a valid alternative for the reading public. While the 2013 consumer research report of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office, Counterfeiting in Hungary shows that about one third of young people consume content from illegal sources, it also points out that on average 21 percent of consumers would pay for such content, if it was available for a more affordable price.”

The Chairman also emphasizes:„I find it absolutely necessary for the book trade and the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office take steps towards ensuring a real alternative to illegal use, to create legal market models and to raise awareness, through them decreasing the volume of grey usage. The illegally obtained fruit is not as sweet as the one legally bought, and as the poacher of the stolen fruit is punished, the illegal distributors of e-books must also be dealt with.”

According to Péter László Zentai, Director of the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association: “as welcome news as it is to find that the young generation so susceptible to innovation is adopting the usage of e-books, and therefore the culture of reading is not suffering from its migration to the digital space, it is outrageous to face the fact that the – in principle, the most conscious – citizens, namely those holding a higher degree, are for the most part indifferent to the fact that some of their reading materials are obtained illegally. It is absolutely necessary to raise awareness to the fact that illegal downloading is stealing in the same sense shoplifting is. It is also just as necessary that the operators of such pirate sites are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Summary of the Survey Results

  • Of the survey participants, one third indicated that they own a device that can read an e-book. A similarly high number, almost 50% replied that they have read an e-book before, and another 9% reported that they read e-books regularly.
  • 44% of participants does not read e-books at all (regardless of whether they own an e-book reading device) 28% does not have an e-book reading device, but still reads such publications, and another 28% owns such a device and uses it to read e-books.
  • If a book is available both in electronic and printed format, 13% of the respondents will prefer the e-book format, 84% will choose the traditional, printed format. Owning an e-book reading device has a significant influence on the responses, of those with such devices; one third more will choose the e-book ever the traditional edition.
  • Books on paper are preferred because of easy access and availability, while e-books are chosen because the price is more favorable.
  • More than half of e-book readers can access the books that they want to read – only less than one third indicated that they do not have access to as many books appear only in printed form.
  • More than half of the respondents have downloaded a book from the internet before – for the most part, it is the same respondents that also own an e-book reading device. From the respondents that have downloaded e-books from the internet before, fairly many, 42% reported having downloaded content from an illegal source.
  • The fact that only 30% of respondents verify that they are downloading their e-books from a verified source is also an explanation of why the downloading content from illegal sources is so widespread.
  • While 43% of respondents are unaware of the legality of their sources, they reported that they would use illegal sources if that was the only way of having access to the content. Out of the survey participants, almost one out of every four respondents are indifferent as to what source they download their e-books from.