There’s room for both tablets and e-readers (for now)

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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.

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