It was just five years ago that E-readers (such as the Amazon Kindle) began to become popular — and started clobbering tradition bookstores such as the now out-of-business Borders. During 2011, 25 million E-readers were sold, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook (among others) had also become major players.
But the meteoric rise of E-readers is now being accompanied by a meteoric decline. In 2012, sales dropped to less than 15 million units; and IHS iSuppli Market Intelligence predicts that sales will fall to 8.7 million units in 2014. This is just the latest example of accelerated product obsolescence.
As Greg Bensinger reports for the Wall Street Journal: “Dedicated devices for reading E-books have been a hot category for the past half-dozen years, but the shrinking sizes and falling prices of full-featured tablet computers are raising questions about the fate of reading-only gadgets. E-readers seemed revolutionary when they came into vogue in 2007. They allowed users to store and read hundreds of books on a device that was lighter than many hardcovers and took up much less space. In addition, digital books cost less to buy. But tastes and technology have moved on. People haven’t stopped reading. They are just increasingly likely to read E-books on tablets rather than E-readers, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. And ever cheaper tablet computers can be used not just as sophisticated readers but also as Web browsers, game consoles, and cameras. ‘For most consumers, a multi-use tablet is a better fit, particularly at the price points at which tablets can now be had,’ says Tom Mainelli, IDC’s tablet research director. ‘E-readers will eventually become a niche product.'”
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Photo by Bloomberg: The Barnes & Noble Nook, left, and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite