Tablets like the Apple iPad, Google Nexus 7, Microsoft Surface, and even B&N NOOK HD and Amazon Kindle Fire lineup are multi-purpose devices. You can use them to surf the web, play games, watch videos, and do much more.

You can also use them to read books — and that’s likely a big reason that sales of dedicated eBook readers seems to be on the decline.

Amazon Kindle Touch

Analysts at iSuppli report that US shipments of eBook readers are down about 36 percent from last year, when more than 23 million units were shipped. This year the number is expected to fall just shy of 15 million.

The firm predicts that shipments could fall to under 11 million next year if the trend continues… meanwhile tablet shipments are expected to hit 120 million units in 2013.

It’s always worth taking this sort of prediction with a grain of salt. It wasn’t that long ago that analysts were predicting that netbooks would take over a huge portion of the laptop space — because based on the growth in the first year or two that the product category existed, it looked like that was what would happen.

Still, it’s not surprising that the rise of low cost tablets like the Nexus 7, NOOK HD, and Amazon Kindle Fire HD would have an impact on eReader sales. Why buy a device that just does one thing when you could spend a few bucks more and get a multi-purpose device that has long (although not quite as long) battery life, a high resolution display, and handles audio, video, and much more in addition to eBooks?

Actually, there are a few good reasons. Digital book readers with E Ink displays still tend to get better battery life than tablets, lasting for up to 30 hours on a charge. They’re also able to go as long as 2 months between charges since there’s not much of anything draining the battery when an eReader’s not in use.

E Ink displays are also easy to read outdoors in direct sunlight, unlike most tablet displays. In fact, devices like the Kindle, NOOK, Kobo Reader, and Sony Reader often look better in sunlight, because they rely on ambient light rather than backlights.

Some folks also claim that E Ink screens cause less eye strain than LCDs, but that seems to be a matter of personal preference — there doesn’t seem to be much consensus among eye specialists about that.

One reason I generally prefer reading on my Kindle than on a phone or tablet is that I’m easily distracted. It’s hard to focus on a book when your email, news feeds, and other data is just a tap away.

So for entirely selfish reasons, I hope the E Reader category stays active indefinitely. But I suspect Amazon, B&N, and other companies would be just as happy to sell eBooks exclusively to tablet owners.

via The Digital Reader

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3 replies on “eBook Reader shipments fall as tablets rise”

  1. I personally feel that the percentage of E-book reader is increasing because any one can read anything on anywhere for just at fingertips

  2. Some inside baseball: About six years ago a number of eBook intermediaries arrived on the scene to provide eBooks and audio-books for libraries. About three years ago, the system was nearly perfected or at leats good. There was a fair & easy way for libraries to supply ePub, Kindle, and various audio books to patrons for free…it worked like a physical book system where the libraries owned one digital copy that had DRM. It may seem like madness to treat digital items like physical items…but it was fair because we paid once ($80) and could circulate the book as much as we liked as long as it was one person at a time. Because many library systems started using this service, many people found eBook readers attractive because they were useful. You could buy books, loan books, and there was a good reason to own an eReader.

    Sadly, over the last 18 months publishers have dismantled the system and stopped renewing contracts or even make eBooks available to libraries. Therefore, now eReaders are just devices for pay-only content. Oh, there are some free items as well…the classics…but people want to read best sellers (duh) . Since the only way to get those books is to pay for them, and since not even Amazone is selling books for $9, buying books is expensive again. This may sound like a tempest in a teapot, but this is the Digital Divide coming up again. In the future rich people will read things on smartphones and tablets…poor people will read physical books from a library. Rich people will have books/content on demand, poor people will wait.

    You might say, “well how would this change filter down to reader sales?” Well, hold your hat…libraries for the past six years, while they were circulating eBooks and audio-books, were telling EVERY patron to buy a MP3 player and eReader. Librarians were hustling and promoting eReaders, smart phones and other devices like crazy. Now we are not…

  3. I’m hoping outdoor visibility and low power usage gets some advancements in shipping products soon. I’m tired of the resolution pushing right now. They don’t actually provide much real world improvements especially when used outside, near a window or after smudges and dust get on them.

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