Are E-Readers Over?

Diehard e-reader fans may disagree, but it looks like the reign of the e-reader could potentially be coming to a close. That’s not to say the concept of having an ultra-portable reading device constantly on hand is a dead one — not at all. In fact, tablet sales are booming, and it’s spelling doom for the humble e-reader.

According to a Pew Research Center report from last year, 23 percent of Americans said they read e-books in 2012, up from 16 percent the previous year. But they’re not buying e-readers to read them on: they’re using tablets.

Last year, E Ink Holdings (the company that manufactures e-ink screens) posted a staggering net loss of $33.6 million. E-reader sales have been dropping since 2011, and IDC predicts they’ll continue to do so. Meanwhile, tablet sales increased by 50.6 percent in 2013, and show no sign of stopping.

The color displays and expanded capabilities of tablets make them a sure bet for many consumers, especially since they’ve been slowly but steadily dropping in price. And, as the Wall Street Journal points out, the simplicity of dedicated e-readers make them long-lasting and unlikely to become outdated as quickly as tablets do. That means that even if e-reader fans keep using their trusty devices year after year, they’re not buying new ones.

For dedicated e-reader devotees, however, the awesome battery life, rock-bottom price, longevity and simple design of a dedicated e-reader still wins out. Whether that will hold true for the manufacturers of these devices remains to be seen.

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