The iPad Is Not Replacing eReaders

When the iPad first launched there was debate about whether it would replace dedicated eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble nook. In March I wrote a posted titled “Will We See Lower Prices For eBook Readers?” in which I speculated that if Amazon and Barnes & Noble saw sales of their devices drop they would need to lower the prices of the devices, which at that time cost $259. I am not sure whether Amazon or Barnes & Noble saw lower sales but they definitely lowered the prices on their devices and today you can buy a Kindle for $139 and a nook for $149.

On the day that Barnes & Noble announced the WiFi only nook that cost $149 I wrote a post titled “Why An eReader Can Succeed” in which I related eReaders to feature phones, and I said:

“I disagree with those who think that eReaders are headed towards extinction because eReaders will always be cheaper and simpler to use than tablets like the iPad. Just as feature phones continue to be bought by people despite the capabilities and lowering price of smartphones, I think some people will select a Kindle over an iPad for its lower price, simplicity, readability, and lower weight.”

I went on to say that I do think that in the end there will only be two companies that will be selling eReaders and those are most likely going to be Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

As we approach the 2010 holiday shopping season there is evidence showing that the iPad is not replacing eReaders, and in fact Amazon is saying that the $139 Kindle is their fastest selling Kindle of all time. Today, a year after they first announced the nook, Barnes & Noble announced the new color nook that has a 7″ color touch screen and costs $249. While the $249 price is higher than Amazon’s Kindle, it has a color touch screen, and it is still half the price of the iPad. For people who want a color eReader, don’t want to pay $500, and want a smaller and lighter device, the color nook is going to be the perfect device for them.

PC Magazine says that it is time to stop comparing the Kindle and iPad because they are two wildly popular and different devices. I couldn’t agree more, and I think there are two very good reasons why. First, not everyone who wants an eBook reader wants a $500 tablet computer, so the lower price, lower weight, and smaller size of the Kindle and nook is more appealing. Second, at $139 and possibly lower prices in the future, the Kindle is cheap enough to buy in addition to an iPad and the synchronization capabilities of both the Kindle and nook iPad apps with their eReader siblings make reading books between the two devices seamless.

I don’t see the iPad and Kindle or nook an either/or decision unless Apple were to lower the price of the iPad to the same $139 price of the Kindle, and really doubt that we will ever see that happen. If the price of the iPad were to lower to the same price as the Kindle, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kindles given away by Amazon in some type of subsidized, book club model, and Amazon being a much larger retailer will be in a good position to give Kindles away. The iPad will not replace eReaders unless people stop reading as Steve Jobs once tried to suggest they were doing.

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