The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Report from Forrester predicts explosion of e-reader textbook market within five years

An article from Seeking Alpha discusses a new report by Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research entitled, “How Big is the eReader Opportunity?” The report has some very interesting findings and predictions about e-readers, the textbook market, and the addition of social networking capabilities to e-readers. In regards to the e-reader textbook market, Rotman Epps predicts that it will have modest sales this year but within five years we will see an explosion. Rotman Epps comments, “The textbook tipping point won’t come from Harvard, MIT, or even Stanford: We think it will come from developing nations like China and India, whose universities will use technology to leapfrog ahead of Western counterparts. China especially is already a fast-growing market for eReaders like Jinke Electronics’ HanLin eBook, which sells for US$299 and includes 600 free books. We expect the textbook eReader market to start this year with modest sales of content through the Kindle DX, with greater adoption starting in 2011 and reaching more sizable numbers by 2013.” The article also features an interesting graphic to show how crowded the e-reader market has already become. We can expect that this graphic will become even more complex within the coming months as more and more new players enter the market.

Another posting on Wired, features more information from the report in regards to the addition of social networking capabilities to e-readers. Rotman Epps predicts that within the next few months, e-reading will become more of a collaborative experience when social networking is added to e-readers. Rotman Epps commented, “Buying and reading books is an inherently social process and the lack of robust sharing capabilities on the (Amazon) Kindle is an obvious weakness that competitors will address.” E-readers will need to give users the ability to view others recommendations and ratings through social networking communities such as Facebook and Goodreads. The posting notes that an e-reader startup company in Germany is focusing on this idea and plans to introduce a device this fall at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A third article from ReadWriteWeb features another interesting chart from the report that shows the drivers of growth for e-reader devices and content. The figure shows a significantly lower price point for e-readers in 2010 and an even further reduction in cost by 2012. It is also predicted that color devices will be available by the end of 2010 with full frame video available in 2011-2012.

The charts and information presented in the report confirm that the e-reader space is becoming more complex everyday with new entrants and incumbents all vying for a piece of the market. As new technologies are introduced and e-reader adoption shifts beyond the early adopters, we must prepare for the effect that e-readers will have on our industry.

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