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Summary:

Although there’s some overlapping functionality between tablets and e-readers, it doesn’t seem to set up either device to cannibalize the other; at least not yet. The number of adults who owned either a tablet or an e-reader doubled this holiday season. Here’s why neither is “winning.”

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Although there’s some overlapping functionality between tablets and e-readers, it doesn’t seem to set up either device to cannibalize the other; at least not yet. Pew Research noted on Monday that ownership of each nearly doubled this holiday season, indicating some consumers are content to focus solely on reading while others want a device that supplements digital content with apps, web access and email.

Pew points out both Amazon and Barnes & Noble introduced new, low-cost tablets this past holiday season. These would fall into the “tablet” category even though both are e-reading devices at their core; running on Android opens up additional tablet-like features. As a result, these relatively inexpensive devices surely helped boost tablet sales during the holidays.

But this gain may have been offset by lower-cost E-Ink digital reading devices. Again, Amazon and Barnes & Noble rolled out new e-readers to expand their product lines, with some prices starting as low as $79; far less than the $199 it costs for an Amazon Kindle Fire, for example.

As long as there’s a significant price difference between the two device types, I suspect there will be little, if any cannibalization. If Amazon were to further subsidize the Kindle Fire with some product ads throughout the tablet, however, that could have a significant impact. E-Ink readers will always have dedicated fans, but a $149 Kindle Fire, for example, would give tablet sales a nice boost.

  1. I own both an e-ink reader and a 7″ tablet. I find they are both great devices for what they do. Basically the e-reader is easier to read on. I have a do read on my tablet, but I find it does strain my eyes a bit. Also the battery life just doesn’t compare. But that being said I love my tablet. For roughly 90% of what I need a full blown computer for my tablet works fine. I tend to go home at night and not even turn on my computer.

    I really hope that both devices stay viable. Unless there is a convergence where we see e-ink and an LED display on a tablet.

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  2. Richard Garrett Monday, January 23, 2012

    For a long while I had two eReaders (Kindle second generation and Nook Color) and an iPad — not to mention Kindle and BN apps on my Android cell phone. For now, having sold the NC and iPad, I’ve settled on the Kindle as my go-to reading device. I discovered that I like the focus on reading that the Kindle encourages (no distractions/temptations to play music, check email, surf, etc). Going forward, I will no doubt get another tablet (iPad 3 probably), but will continue to use the Kindle (wishing for only two additional features…a backlight and possibly touchscreen (again probably a Kindle) because turning the pages using a button on my Kindle creates just enough rhythmic noise to be a bit annoying in a quiet bedroom.

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  3. +1 to what Jon said.

    I have both a Sony PRS505 ereader and Cyanogenmodded Nook Color. I read novels on the Sony. On the tablet, I read reference-type books, review office docs, browse the web, do email, etc. I often carry both out every day. I have installed the Kindle, Nook, Google Books, and another generic epub reader or two on the tablet and have books loaded in most of these.

    (I don’t like reading reference-type books on my ereader due to limited ability to jump around, my typical method of reading such books compared to linearly for novels.)

    I was hoping for a Pixel Qi, Mirasol, or similar display on a good tablet from a good company, ideally in 7″ and 10″ sizes. I’d buy one in a heartbeat to eliminate my need for two devices.

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