Ereaders Not Dead Yet, But Soon

I love my Kindle; I think it’s one of the neatest consumer electronics products ever devised. I love the size of it, the portability, the wildly extended battery life — in fact, pretty much everything about it. And in general, I’m a fan of “mono-devices,” i.e., devices that do one thing, and do it well, and at an attractive price point.

That being said, I  believe that the recent Huffington Post assessment about tablets putting the final nails in the coffin of the Kindle and other dedicated ereading devices is correct. As the prices of tablets come down and the form-factor aspects improve, this is where the ereading market will migrate to. Dedicated ereader devices such as the Kindle and the Nook, the new Kobo, etc., will become the 8-track tape players of the ebook world.

IMO, the practical takeaway from that development, for writers self-publishing ebooks, is that Amazon wins, and its ebook format (or the 2.0 version of it) becomes the standard. Amazon has the vastly larger market share for ebooks, the content, and the bankroll. Whatever promotion Barnes & Noble does to push the Nook ereader, Amazon can counter it with its own promotions.  B&N doesn’t have that kind of firepower, plus it’s still saddling itself with red ink-generating bricks-&-mortar stores. Whatever promotion B&N does to supposedly lure people into the stores and download ebooks there, Amazon can match or better it on-line.

Which means, also IMO, self-publishing writers will feel less and less compulsion to publish to formats other than Kindle (meaning the handheld Kindle and Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, Kindle for the iPad, and whatever other tablets are out there). I’m relying on my friend and epublishing guru Mike Stackpole’s assessment here, that publishing to the Kindle and EPUB formats currently gets a writer about 80% of his or her ebook sales, with the Kindle format being the lion’s share of that. With tablets killing off the dedicated ereader market, it won’t be long before just publishing to the Kindle format will get writers so close to 100% of their ebook sales, that it will hardly be worth publishing to other formats in order to chase down those last couple of sales. This will greatly simplify the workflow for the self-publishing writer.

I’ll miss my handheld Kindle, when it eventually dies and I can’t get a new one, but I already miss my old reel-to-reel tape recorders, and I’ve managed to get over that.