The eBook Universe 2014

Earlier this year Mike Cane posted a redacted version of an old flow chart from 2009. The chart dates from 2009 and lays out the major players of the ebook market at that time.

As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be useful to repost the flowchart and reflect on just how many key players are gone.

To start, here's the original:

The eBook Universe 2014 Blast from the Past e-Reading Hardware

And here's my chart. It's not quite the same as the one Mike posted in April; he crossed off Irex and PlasticLogic but I left those logos unredacted because the companies aren't actually dead yet.

Update: A reader has told me that Irex kicked the bucket for the second time, so I'm calling it dead. Thanks, Zetmolm!

I also left Asus unredacted because this company still makes smartphones and tablets, and thus it deserves to be on there almost as much as the iPhone.

The eBook Universe 2014 Blast from the Past e-Reading Hardware

Of all the names to survive the purge, Scribd is the one which surprises me the most. They weren't a major player then and they're not now, but they have moved up the list from "nobody" to somebody.

Shortcovers (you now know them as Kobo) is the other huge surprise. Seriously, who would have predicted that a shoestring operation launched by a Canadian bookstore chain would grow into a global competitor? And more importantly, win in a market where Sony _lost_?

This flowchart reminds me why I don't like to make long term projections. I mean, had you asked me in 2009 to pick either Cool-ER or Shortcovers, I would have picked the former - only to see it quietly go bankrupt in the middle of 2010 when it ran out of money.

Would anyone care to guess which names will still be on this chart 5 years from now?


About Nate Hoffelder (10079 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on The eBook Universe 2014

  1. If you left Asus on there because they make smartphones and tablets, then shouldn’t Sony still be there, too? Sure, they closed their bookstore and don’t sell pocket-size ereaders anymore, but they still make tablets and phones, not to mention the DPTS-1 which is a letter-size epaper document reader.

    • Good point. I’m tempted to go cross out Asus, but one important difference is that Asus makes more mobile devices (globally). I think an argument can be made to keep one and not the other.

  2. amazon, apple, but not Barnes & Noble. They would be replaced by a different company (might be same product though).

  3. To be complete, technically Smashwords and now Oyster should be on there as a ‘content providers’.

    • If we wanted to be more accurate then Amazon would look like a hydra, and Scribd/Oyster would go in a single spot. Also, Smashwords would get lumped into a single point with all of the other distributors.

  4. The only certainties are Apple, Google, and Amazon.
    Maybe ASUS if you count WinTabs and twofers, but then you have to include Microsoft.
    (Which I would. WinTabs are building momentum.)

  5. Irex is completely dead. In 2010 Irex went bankrupt but then started a second life as IRX Innovations. However, IRX Innovations was also declared bankrupt recently, on the 29th of October of this year.

  6. When I first looked at your chart, I was wondering where Kobo was. Then I saw the little chapters-indigo. OK, I thought, maybe that’s Kobo. I haven’t heard of them being called Shortcovers. Do you have any info on that? In Canada, they are still being marketed as Kobo.

    • Kobo was launched as a shoestring operation in 2009 (or possibly 2008). Its original name was Shortcovers. The name was changed to Kobo in December 2009, at the same time that the tiny company picked up outside capital investors and retail partners in the US, NZ, and AUS.

      In short, Kobo didn’t exist when this chart was made in 2009; it was a Canada-only operation called Shortcovers.

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Come è cambiata la lettura digitale negli ultimi cinque anni...Kindle Italia

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: