With the advent of bigger screens on phones like the Samsung Note and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus along with the proliferation of tablets, the number of e-ink devices being manufactured (and therefore sold) has declined. E-reader shipments fell from 26.4 million in 2011 to 18.2 million in 2012 and now number about 10 million a year.
Kobo recently announced a new Kobo Glo HD with “most book-like 6” HD Carta E Ink” but I have seen almost no interest in the new device amongst fellow readers. While ereaders still represent the majority of e-ink devices being manufactured, the majority of stories about the technology are about wearable tech and dual device screens.
Tablet sales continue to grow but at a much smaller pace. In 2015 analysts predict only a 8% increase to 233 million units. Individuals point to consumers keeping the products longer and lack of innovation in hardware to move consumers away from their existing devices.
The Time magazine article discussing the five reasons that tablet sales are falling could easily apply to the eink reader–longer product cycles, lack of a need to upgrade, and the phablet alternative.
In other words, everyone who needed/wanted an ereader or tablet already has one and few people feel compelled to upgrade. What does the Kindle Voyager have over the Kindle Paperwhite (virtually nothing) or what can you get from the Kobo Glo HD versus the Kobo Glo you bought a couple of years ago)? Does the sharpness of the upgraded screen technology impel you to upgrade? For most people the answer is no.
And if the ereading device does break down, it appears that many people are opting against replacing it, choosing to go with a low priced tablet or, for many people, the larger phone.
The survey also found growing demand for jumbo phones. Three-in-five (60%) would-be buyers said they wanted a 5 inch screen or larger — a 7-point jump in phablet demand since September, and double the level 15 months ago.
I read a lot on my larger phone screen but recently I’ve switched off to using my Kindle for a slightly larger screen but I’ve noticed that the Kindle doesn’t actually provide that much more screen real estate for fiction reading. The one benefit of the e-ink reader, however, is the long charge time but that sometimes creates a problem because I often forget to charge it while the phone charges every night.
Invariably, I end up reading on my phone again.
I know more romance readers are using subscription services whether it is Scribd or Kindle Unlimited. One of the downsides to any e-ink reader is the inability to use a subscription service like Scribd or Oyster. With the Kindle, you have access to Kindle Unlimited but you can’t access your Scribd subscription. Technically you can use the experimental browser on the Kindle to access the web version of Scribd.(Experimental Browser – Scribd.com – Bookmark this Page)
Dear Author’s readership is largely digital and most of the hardcore romance reader seems to be moving that direction. What I’m curious about is what readers are using these days to read their digital books. Are you still reading on an e-ink device? Do you have any interest in buying a new ereader? If so, what features would you want? Have you moved to a tablet or a phone? Are you moving back to print books?