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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

E-Reader May Find Niche Beside Tablet

If you own a full-size oven, why buy a toaster? Any oven can toast bread. But a toaster produces tastier toast, and is cheaper, faster, and more energy-efficient to boot.

A similar scenario may be developing with tablet and e-reader ownership.

Earlier in December, after HIS iSuppli released a special report showing that sales of e-book readers were plummeting while tablet sales rocketed upward, dozens of blogs and news sites trumpeted headlines such as “Tablets Make Ebook Readers an Endangered Species” on EFYtimes.com. The CITE took note, too.

The assumption, of course, was that since tablets can do everything e-book readers can, consumers don’t need or want e-readers any more. For some consumers, that’s true.

Others, though, may not want to schlep a $350 tablet to the beach or entrust it to a child but don’t mind doing so with a cheaper e-reader. Those who like to read in bed before turning out the lights may prefer to keep an e-reader, not a tablet, on their nightstand. Multi-user households may supplement their communal tablet and laptop or desktop with one or two e-readers, in the same way families have a variety of TVs.

One indication that e-book readers aren’t yet the slate equivalent of an eight-track player comes from a report in The New York Times about how independent bookstores are managing to stay afloat despite the behemoth competitors and e-books on tablets. The article mentions indie stores are selling a significant number of Kobo e-readers, to their pleasant surprise.

The Kobo allows independents to earn small commissions on e-book sales referrals through store web sites. That’s appealing for customers who really want to support their local bookstore but also crave the convenience of e-books. 

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