E-Readers Will Shrink in Popularity But Not Disappear, New Report Says

While tablet growth surges and annual e-reader shipments decrease, there will be a place for the latter device in the foreseeable future, according to a new report.

“There still remains an audience for a dedicated device that replicates the print reading experience,” said Jeff Orr, senior practice director for global devices at Oyster Bay, NY-based ABI Research, the mobile device research firm that produced the report.

Orr bases this assertion on the continued shipments of the e-ink devices, those that are projected by the vendors and consumer survey data that indicates that readers like to have multiple devices for reading in their homes.

“In the U.S., we find a lot of consumers with e-readers have multiple active devices in their households,” said Orr, who was one of the authors of the report.

According to the report, about 11 million e-readers will be shipped globally in 2012, down from 15 million in 2011. The number of shipped e-readers is expected to decline each year by a rate of 6.1%. Tablets, by comparison, will be much more popular in 2012 and beyond. In 2012, 102 million tablets will be shipped and that number balloons to 250 million in 2017.

Price was also a factor in keeping e-readers in the game, according to the report. The average tablet costs $465, thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the iPad. Most e-readers cost less than $100.

Related: As Consumers Increasingly Choose Tablets Over E-Readers, Will E-Book Sales Suffer?

 

Content Is King

Readers are making the decision of which e-reader to buy — Kindle or Nook, for instance — based mostly on the unique content offered on each device.

“The e-readers themselves is not what’s attracting people — the functional capabilities or even the prices,” said Orr. “It has everything to do with the content.”

Orr estimated that 80% to 85% of the content on the Nook and Kindle e-readers is the same but the unique content — the distinct relationships with book and magazine publishers and things like KDP Select and educational content — is what is swaying people one way of the other in terms of hardware decisions.

E-reader image via Shutterstock

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