John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Every Time You Buy a Tablet, an E-Reader Dies

God_kills_an_ereaderE-book readers haven’t been around all that long, but already they’re heading toward obsolescence, pushed aside by the burgeoning demand for their multi-use successor: The tablet.

After years of rapid growth, sales of dedicated e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are declining, precipitously. That’s the word from market research outfit IHS iSuppli, which says the e-reader is “flaming out.”

In 2011, worldwide e-book reader sales hit 23.2 million, says IHS iSuppli. This year, it says, they’ve fallen 36 percent to 14.9 million units. Next year, sales will fall an additional 27 percent to 10.9 million. And by 2016, just 7.1 million e-book readers will be purchased.


Not a surprise, really. With each successive generation, tablets are becoming thinner, lighter and more powerful. Their prices are dropping and, more importantly, consumers are beginning to see them as a better value proposition than the single-use e-reader.

“The stunning rise and then blazing flameout of e-books perfectly encapsulates what has become an axiomatic truth in the industry,” said IHS iSuppli analyst Jordan Selburn. “Single-task devices like the e-book reader are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work