Sheesh! We Just Got Over the Death of Books; Now it’s the Death of E-Readers?

“The e-reader’s days are numbered,” writes HuffPo’s Amy Lee. Despite millions of e-book readers sold in the last couple of years, Lee foresees obsolescence for Kindles and Nooks as tablets take grip and ultimately take charge.

Her surmise is drawn from prestigious technical and media research firm Forrester, who project that by next year tablets will outsell e-readers, and in less than four years there will be twice as many tablet owners as e-reader owners.

The reason is simple: history proves that that given a choice between a dedicated device and a multifunctional one, it’s multifunctional every time. “As the demise of the Flip camera suggests, consumers are increasingly trading single-purpose devices for multifunction gadgets. Especially as the price of tablet computers continues to fall, experts predict users will drop e-readers for tablet PCs that offer web-browsing and video capabilities alongside e-books.

“Even Amazon, which helped make e-readers and ebooks mainstream, appears to recognize the e-reader’s impending demise and is rumored to be developing its own tablet device. The Barnes & Noble Nook Color has already been modified to run Android’s Froyo software, taking it into tablet territory.”

Lee quotes another tech firm that relegates the future of e-readers to a niche. 

A niche!

We’re not sentimental about our Kindle but this is one prediction we think is dead wrong. The compactness and utility of Kindles and Nooks (the original Kindles, the original Nooks) can’t be matched by tablets. More importantly, book lovers love to immerse themselves without distraction in their books.  They like their dedicated e-book devices to be…well, dedicated. So we’re betting against the house on this one.  Niche indeed!

You decide whether or not The ereader’s days are numbered.

Richard Curtis

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8 Responses to Sheesh! We Just Got Over the Death of Books; Now it’s the Death of E-Readers?

  1. Ciara says:

    I do think a conventional readers days are numbered. When I bought mine in January, I was advised to buy a tablet version, which I did.

  2. john t says:

    If ever tablets have the ability to switch from something like e-ink (for long text reading) and back to normal screen for other work then they will take away the only reason for dedicated e-readers.

  3. Dean says:

    For another viewpoint on single-purpose devices, see David Pogue’s article on a sort of successor to the Flip camera. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/technology/personaltech/12pogue.html Extrapolating from the demise of the Flip might well be a great example of the deductive fallacy.

  4. Bruce Unck says:

    Nothing is better than the REAL book!!

  5. I have both. For people who read a lot, say a book a week or more, the ereader wins. It’s more comfortable to use, has an unbeatable battery life and is less distracting. They will continue to sell. And the price will come down, so more people will buy them.
    The tablet is different, and is for people who want to do more things, don’t mind the backlight and lower battery life, and indeed, the extra weight.
    Just because the current trend is for multifunction devices, it doesn’t mean it will always be that way. There is a lot to be said for a single purpose device that accomplishes its chosen function superbly.
    Bruce, I read electronically for the most part. I pay real money for the books, they tell the same real story in the same way, so they are real books.

  6. I agree with the poster above that nothing is better than a real book, but I do quite like my — dedicated — e-reader. Convergence to multi-functionality is good, up to a point — and then it gets silly, with all kinds of things that various people don’t want/use/need but get foisted with all the same.

    This is just another reminder that the ‘death of books thing’ and the rise of the digital book is nothing to do with books at all (though they may become the collateral damage of a consumer technology product war). It’s about shifting kit. It’s about one company getting one over on its rivals and dominating the market for tech by drawing us all in with ‘content’ be it music, pictures, phones, text, books whatever.

    The ‘content’ is just the bait used by those flogging the ‘product’. It can be ditched when it’s no longer useful.

  7. Mark Roberts says:

    Who needs an ‘expert’ prediction on the possible demise of monochrome e-ink e-readers? They don’t represent a huge investment for those who already have them, and they will do exactly what buyers intended for a year or two yet. Amazon isn’t tied to the technology. An interesting question is, what potential does e-ink technology have to make conventional screens obsolete? Do the ‘experts’ have a clue about that?

  8. Rachel Jones says:

    I’ve made the same prediction all along, and completely agree that dedicated e-readers will serve a niche market. There is a limited market of people who read enough to have an interest is owning or justify the expense of buying a dedicated e-reader; of those, a healthy percentage will want a multifunction device. I read at least five books a week on average, yet I’m one of them. I am clearly not alone; just look at the number of people who read books on their cell phones.

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