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Books Displays Handhelds

Will Tablets Kill Off e-Readers? 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-me-e-ink-or-give-me-death dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Are e-readers doomed? A research note earlier this week from IHS iSuppli suggested that, after years of solid growth, the e-book reader market was 'on an alarmingly precipitous decline' thanks to the rise of tablets. The firm suggested that e-reader sales had declined from 23.2 million units in 2011 to 14.9 million this year — around 36 percent, in other words. The note blames tablets: 'Single-task devices like the ebook are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets.' Even Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the reigning champs of the e-reader marketplace, have increasingly embraced full-color tablets as the best medium for selling their digital products. Backed by enormous cloud-based libraries that offer far more than just e-books, these devices are altogether more versatile than grayscale e-readers, provided their users want to do more than just read plain text."
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Will Tablets Kill Off e-Readers?

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  • No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:39PM (#42293959)

    No eReaders are not doomed by tablets.

    eReader prices are doomed.

  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainwalker (174354) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:40PM (#42293979)

    Bring a tablet, I'll bring my e-ink reader, and let's go sit in the sun and read for 4 hours.

    Yes, they're a niche item, but it's a substantial and highly useful niche.

  • Tablet != eReader (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CodeheadUK (2717911) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:42PM (#42294043) Homepage

    The e-Ink display gives insanely long battery life, is viewable in most light conditions and is easy on my ageing eyes. A tablet is heavy and chews through it's battery in a day.

    However, web surfing on my e-reader is painful and apps/games are non-existant.

    Just because they are similar looking doesn't mean they can (or should) do each other's job. Each has it's strengths and they are cheap enough that there's no need to worry about combining their roles.

  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:43PM (#42294059)
    Battery life.

    A non-backlit ebook reader will last a very, very long time without recharging or fresh batteries. A tablet won't last through the day.
  • Re:e-Ink (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rhywden (1940872) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:14PM (#42294757)
    Also: Please try to actually use such a fancy tablet outside in the bright sun. I know, this is Slashdot, what with the aversion of the daystar and all, but still...
  • Another theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:17PM (#42294833)

    Maybe the people who wanted an e-book reader (typically the technically minded with a great love for books) already have one?

    Tablets have gone through significant upgrades, but e-book readers are very damn similar today than they were 2 years ago. They still have predominantly black and white e-ink screens of roughly the same size. They still are incredibly thin. They still have a battery life of about a month or so. There's no fast paced upgrade cycle like there is with tablets or phones.

    Everyone I know with an original iPad has ditched it for the iPad 2 or the iPad !3. Yet everyone I know who bought an ebook reader more than a year ago still has that ebook reader and has no intention of upgrading.

    Am I missing something? The 6th generation Kindle Wi-Fi looks very similar to the 4th gen models of yesteryear. It's hard to take the marketing of it being lighter than previous models seriously when they were already lighter than paperback novels to begin with. And as for the touch experiment, why the hell would you want touch on a Kindle? I actually know people who went out of their way not to get the Kindle touch.

  • Re:e-Ink (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:21PM (#42294933)

    ereaders are not like a cell phone or computer; they don't change that much from model to model, so people that bought an ereader four years ago are probably still happy using that same ereader. On the other hand, I know lots of people that upgrade their phone/ipad as soon as a new model comes out

    eReaders will stick around. Not the sexiest technology, but they will remain available.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:31PM (#42295151) Homepage

    eReaders are dirt cheap. They can probably be considered a loss leader. They're there to enable the sale of content. They are the proverbial razor handle. They will likely never go away because of this.

    They simply don't need to compete as an independent product.

    So market forces likely won't cause them to go away.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:33PM (#42295179) Journal
    So maybe the right answer is a tablet... with an Epaper screen on the back.
  • by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:49PM (#42295443)

    The problem with E-readers is that there seems to be very little MUST-UPGRADE-NOW mentality in the users. There is no real reason for me to buy the latest-and-greatest E-ink reader when my current device works just fine.

    Compare this to a smartphone/computer/tablet. Most people I know wait for their contract to expire and get a new "free" phone immediately. I know people who get new laptops every 3-4 years. Both from a hardware and software point of view, upgrading offers significant benefits for these devices (I can't personally speak about tablets, having never owned one). For some devices, the software upgrades aren't available on older devices (either due to a hardware limitation, or to get people to upgrade their devices).

    I bought a Kindle DX soon after it was launched, and I have a smartphone. The collections "feature" was the latest good update I recollect for my Kindle. Sure, it might be nice to have lighting on the device, but I can just get a clip on light if I really want to. My Kindle DX is a device I use regularly, but unless they make great software improvements in handling PDF documents/improved page refresh, I don't see any reason to upgrade (especially since I don't really care for a smaller E-reader).

    My phone on the other hand runs Gingerbread (flashed my own ROM), and I don't think it can support the latest Android OS. It doesn't have two cameras, or the best sound, or the fastest hardware. So I clearly see the benefit of upgrading to a new phone.

    E-readers seem to be like toasters/microwaves - if it works, I'm not going to buy a new one. They are, in a way, dull devices. A tablet/smartphone is like a car. Sure, last year's model might be sufficient, but this year's model gives some improvements that (while not central to what I want a phone for) make it feel that upgrading is worth it.

  • by technomom (444378) on Friday December 14, 2012 @09:59PM (#42298213)
    Until tablets come out with a display that can be as easy on the eyes and a battery that lasts 2 months, I don't think I'll be ditching my e-reader.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday December 15, 2012 @01:16AM (#42299207) Homepage Journal
    #1 market for e-Ink readers: beach books. iPads are barely usable at max brightness in the shade - no chance against the sun. Tropical noon makes an e-Ink device look better

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