7-inch tablets have been increasing in popularity in 2012, with product offerings ranging from Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook HD, to various Android tablets including Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Acer's Iconia. The mini tablet market is getting a huge boost this holiday season with the introduction of two new players in the space: Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad Mini. Worldwide shipments of 7-inch tablets are expected to double this year as a result of these new products, lower price points, and the continued popularity of tablets.

In an eMarketer report this week, IHS iSuppli estimated that 17 million 7-inch tablets shipped last year and projects that this year's total shipments will reach 34 million worldwide. That number is expected to double in 2013. These smaller tablets are also forecasted to account for a larger share of total tablet shipments, rising from 24% in 2011 to 28% this year, and 33% by 2013. eMarketer also estimates that 22% of the total U.S. population will use a tablet at least monthly this year, more than double the percentage with access to such a device in 2011.

Reading continues to be a popular activity on tablets, with more than one-third of tablet users in the U.S. reading newspapers on their devices each month and an even larger number reading digital editions of magazines. Interestingly, a recent study from eMarketer found that tablet device type and demographics affect readership levels. The study found that readership was slightly above average for Kindle Fire owners (likely due to easy access to Amazon's large digital library), while Nook and other Android tablet users were slightly less likely than average to read magazines and newspapers on their devices.

In terms of demographics, comScore reported that male tablet users overindexed for both newspaper and magazine reading on tablets, with men making up 57% of the newspaper audience and 54% for magazines. The study found that while men were early tablet adopters compared to women, research from Pew Internet indicates that by August 2012, women were 3% more likely to use a tablet than men. Taking a look at age segmentation, newspaper consumption on tablets was highest among those aged 25-44, while magazines overindexed to a larger audience, those 18-44.

This holiday season will be key for tablet adoption and growth, especially with the new 7-inch tablet trend. We'll be watching the trends.