E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

Summary: OK, so the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook are selling like hotcakes, but does that really mean Apple iPads and Android tablet sales are lagging? I think not.

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Recently one of my readers asked me how I felt about my prediction a year ago that dedicated e-readers were doomed to decline. This was before the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that "The percent of U.S. adults with an e-book reader doubled from 6% to 12% between November 2010 and May 2011," while "roughly the same percentage" of people were using tablets in May 2011 as had been using them in November 2010. You know what? I still feel good about my prediction.

You see, if you take a closer look at the Pew report, E-reader Ownership Doubles in Six Months (PDF Link) you'll see that tablets still gained 3% more owners. True, the growth rate for tablets has slowed down some and e-book readers appear to be growing faster, but has it really.

You see I'm also on record as saying that the Android Linux-powered e-readers were quickly evolving into tablets. Like what tablets you ask? Try the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble's Nook Color: they're both powered by Android

The Nook Color is already an Android tablet. It runs Android 2.2. It also has a small, but growing number of Android applications including Fandango, Evernote and Seesmic and, a personal favorite of mine for reading news Pulse News.

While Amazon hasn't announced that there's a Kindle Tablet on its way, I know from numerous sources that one, or more, are on their way. Once I had a clearer idea what's what with it, I'll be reporting on what industry insiders have told me.

So, if anything, I'm surer than ever that the day of the dedicated e-reader is done-except at the bottom end-is done. Now, and then, why should companies bother to make devices that only let you read books when with Android it's so easy to make these devices into full-scale tablets? I can't think of a single good reason. Can you?

Related Stories:

Barnes & Noble beefs up Nook Color's tablet status with more apps

Amazon tablets reportedly being prepped: Watch prices fall

Review: Barnes & Nobles' Nook Color goes Android Tablet

The first great Android Tablet: Nook Color

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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15 comments
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  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    I think there will always be a profitable market for e-readers. They focus on a single primary task and do it well. Not everyone needs the power of a full tablet.
    Divergex
    • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

      @Divergex
      Agree 100% I just finish deciding what Tablet I would buy and I have a Nook color on it's way right now(To use as a Tablet/E-reader) I picked it based on a few rather logically thought out questions(This questions I ask no matter what I am getting be it a Tablet, Car or even Grocery's.)....
      1. What Will I use the most?
      This was a no brainier I will use the screen the most so It has to be a good higher ress screen.
      2. What will I use it for and when?
      I was getting a Tablet for on the go web browsing at hotspots so it needed not be to big and since I am in the Military I will use it on deployments so it needed to be slightly tough
      3. Is it worth it?
      I got my notebook for $500 and I can do way on that then I could dream of doing on a tablet so I really would feel wrong spending more then a few hundred.
      So I looked at my options and started marking off options.
      Honeycomb tablets, WebOS Tablets, and Ipods all over $400 to much
      Galaxy Tab wifi $350 all the bells and whistles
      Nook Color Wifi $250 no camera or GPS but has a nice screen
      $100 cheaper for the nook color so I looked at both of them I just liked the way the nook operated and it seemed to have less glare on the screen so I picked it.

      I think most people don't look at what they need my Sister was going to buy a nook color to read books on the go and I told her she should look in to the Nook Touch she got it and loves it. so it's all what you need it for
      nickitnite
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    Actually, the only Tablet I have a hard time finding is the Transformer 32 Gig and even the iPad 2 is on store shelves here so it wouldn't surprise me to see some companies missing their targets (Apple included).
    slickjim
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    "Once again my prediction was wrong but I'm going to sleight of hand you into believing I was right the whole time!"

    So I'm curious why your stories are getting spread over annoyingly multiple pages, is it because you haven't had more than two targeted ads (not Linux but Android) on your columns? This one has an ad for a CBS show, two cell phone company TEXT ads and a "sponsored" Ricoh ad that is about how to print from the iPad!
    kyleoster
    • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

      @kyleoster

      P.S. You do more to damage linux than promote it.
      kyleoster
  • Sorry, you're not going to get me to believe that the

    Nook and Kindle are selling gangbusters. Companies with hit runaway products release the sales figures.
    fr_gough
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    I don't know whether your prediction will ultimately be proven wrong or not (I do suspect you are probably at least half wrong).

    The real question you are dancing around is when do dedicated function devices trump multi-function ones? Why are calculators and wristwatches still around, when Smartphones can do both those functions? I suspect that there are subtle issues of convenience and price at work here. The real question is does the dedicated EBR have a longer life expectancy; can it be like the wristwatch or calculator? I have numerous friends who say their preferred reading device must (like the venerable paperback) be able to fit into a pocket. Many of these are opting for the newer larger screened 4G Smartphones. For me the real competition for the Nook and Kindle is not the tablet, but emerging larger screened smartphones. EBRs can succeed in this competition, if their price continues to drop rapidly ($25 would be the target in my mind, and will be reachable at some point). The other consideration is whether the EBR will be a sufficiently more useful reading device than a smartphone that consumers will continue to opt for them.

    The tablet is going to have a different problem, and it is not going to come from EBRs, but from new kinds of laptops. Right now we have a glimpse of this future in the Macbook AIR, and Samsung Series 9. Both of these two devices are far too pricey to compete with current tablets. Recent prototype showings of Intel Ultrabooks in Taiwan give us the promise of devices of equivalent sleekness and lightness at price points in the $800-900 range. And BTW these new devices (coming in 4Q 2011) will be more powerful than either the Macbook or the Samsung, and it is these arguably more functional devices that could give tablets a run for their money.
    eboyhan
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    I think a major point is being missed here. The big seller for the Kindle is e-ink, which allows you to read in the sun comfortably. Try doing that with your tablet...
    Smudger1975
    • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

      @Smudger1975
      Easier on your eyes in general. Not just in sunlight.
      hoaxoner
    • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

      @Smudger1975

      Spot on.

      E-ink stinks for a multi-purpose tablet but is great for e-readers. So you absolutely have a scenario where, for a high end reader, a multi-purpose tablet is inferior for the specific purpose of reading.

      Until there is a screen tech that really gives the best of both worlds you will probably still see dedicated readers.
      SlithyTove
  • Personally, I believe the two will merge

    Eventually I believe the tablet and ebook readers will merge. My wife has a Nook and dearly loves it, but wants more. The prices aren't all that far apart when you buy a nice reader compared to a low end tablet, so as time goes on, I see a merge.

    eReaders also have book stores pushing them for subscription sales at the moment (The old Gillette Motto, Give them the razor, sell them the blade routine) so while somewhat pricey as a reader in the $250 range, they are somewhat subsidized by the vendor in hopes of follow on sales. As tablets see a drop in hardware prices, the consolidation of eReaders , etc. seems to point to consolidation of the two.
    Cynical99
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    Tablets use LCD screens which are hard on the eyes for reading long text. Readers use E Ink technologies that are far easier to read. They're here to stay, until tablets adopt E Ink.
    runbei
  • Android sales stall -

    Seems that Android gains in the market place are stalling out. Apple is back in charge. According to the latest charts, Android is holding steady at 27% of smartphones. No more gains for the past few months.

    Does that mean that tablets will follow a similar pattern as people decide they Cadillac's instead of the econobox eReaders? Should know in a couple months.
    Cynical99
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    Smartphones are where the real R&D is. Tablets are still in the gimmicky stage and are yet to prove themselves for real work.
    bitrate
  • RE: E-Books readers sales rise, but are tablets really lagging?

    As someone replied to this article, there will always be someone who just want a reader, and manufacturers will like to support just one main task (hence, less compatibility problems with third party apps). So, the ratio between readers and full tablets will vary of course (I think in favor of the tablets), but I think the readers won't disappear anytime soon...
    NachoGomez