eReader Market Projected to Shrink by Over 50 Percent in Next Five Years?

eReader Market Projected to Shrink by Over 50 Percent in Next Five Years? e-Reading Hardware Long time readers of this blog will know that I am not a huge fan of market "analysis" "reports" that try to predict the future of the book market. They have uniformly wrong, and good for only laugh.

So when Mike Cane sent me a link to a press release about a report that predicted the future of the ereader market, my first response was to laugh and point out that four of the companies mentioned in the press release stopped making ereaders years ago (Sony, Ectaco, Ematic, and Aluratek), and that another one (Icarus) was D-E-D dead.

But then I reread the lead prediction, and it got me thinking:

The worldwide market for eReader is expected to grow at a CAGR of roughly -12.7% over the next five years, will reach 200 million US$ in 2024, from 460 million US$ in 2019, according to a new study.

English is clearly not their first language. If it were then they would have said that the ereader market totaled an estimated $460 million in 2019, and is expected to shrink an average of 12.7% each year for the next five years.

As fond as I am of ereaders, it would not surprise me if this happened just as predicted. Smartphones and tablets really have replaced ereaders as the leading devices used for reading. They're not just always available, but they also have more features and functionality.

What do you think of this prediction?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

9 Comments

  1. Reader27 November, 2019

    Different devices are better for different uses. An e-reader is better for for reading: cheaper, lower battery use, screen is easier on the eyes. For dedicated readers, which is admittedly not the largest niche, these advantages trump smart phones and tablets.

    If you want to do things other than reading, an e-reader is worse than other types of devices. Web browsing, for example, is much more cumbersome on an e-reader. If I want to web browse, I will use the most convenient device for me- a desktop. For reading, an e-reader is best.

    As dedicated readers- which I would arbitrarily define as those who read at least a book a week- are not a large part of the market, I could see e-reader purchases decline.

    A further reason for e-reader purchases declining is that after over a decade, the market is saturated in developed countries. Most e-reader purchases are now for replacements, not for first-time users. In addition, the technology has matured. My five year old Kindle is quite satisfactory, thank you. I see no point in an “upgrade.”

    Reply
  2. Allen F27 November, 2019

    I think Reader above pretty much nailed it.

    There will be a decline in ereaders as everyone gets one (I have two kindle einks, and a kindle fire which does the internet just fine), and you’re getting down to just replacing as needed.

    Of course certain people want you to believe that any decline in the ereader market means a decline in the indie/self-pub ebook market as well. Sadly for them one does not mean the other, the eink doesn’t wear out after reading a hundred ebooks or even a thousand; and people read on more than just eink (I still do a lot of reading on my computer/netbook if I’m in the office.) Amazon offers apps to let you read the kindle format on just about anything.

    (Though Amazon wasn’t the one to get me started on ebooks, that was Baen and their CDs in certain hardback books, CDs with 20+ full stories in half a dozen formats so there was no way you couldn’t read it if you wanted to. To be honest I miss those silly things. 😉 )

    Reply
  3. Xavier Basora28 November, 2019

    Nate

    I can see dedicated ebook readers declining just like dedicated MP3 players. There won’t be 8 different types. Just the super basic and the premiums versions. The tablets and phone will take the middle

    So ebook readers will become a niche product like vinyl. Fine by me as the market will cater to the demand.

    xavier

    Reply
  4. Mike Cane28 November, 2019

    Remember the years of high-priced eReaders? And how I — and others — said things would change BIGLY when we got them at a US$99 price? Well… oops.

    Reply
  5. name1 December, 2019

    Let’s hope, this will push manufacturers to improve their devices from mere page viewers to versatile allrounders, just like cellphones. I doubt, this will be, what we’ll see, so the pessimistic predictions appear to be reasonable. What else to expect from a product, that hasn’t seen significant innovation over several years?

    Reply
  6. Marilynn Byerly2 December, 2019

    I’m with Reader. Those of us who are serious readers will always prefer a dedicated ebook reader over a smart phone or smaller tablet. I’d as soon not have Internet bells and whistles on mine. Right now, I’m suffering from too many apps I never wanted and have never used on my Galaxy Nook. Without my permission, Google has just dumped a bunch of over-sized apps on my device with no way to remove them, and I’m running out of space for my books.

    Reply
  7. Stephen Cole2 December, 2019

    Hi Nate,
    I totally agree with your views on this, and with Reader.
    It was always a little puzzling why someone would want to carry two similar-looking devices around (phone and reader).
    As the functionality of phones and reader apps keep improving, it’s logical that users would leave their ereader in a drawer.
    An additional driver for this decline might be generational. Our experience on eBooks.com is almost a 1:1 association — the younger you are, the more you just read on your phone.
    Cheers,

    Reply
  8. Erin4 December, 2019

    I can’t stand reading on a phone and won’t start, but agree that more do. I read too much for it to be plausible, but this is one thing that will cut into the e-reader market, as well as more portable tablets and notebooks. Print has had a higher surge the past few years as well.

    Reply
  9. Erin4 December, 2019

    An exception with the phone is audiobooks, which are increasing in popularity quite a bit. I’d rather use a phone than an e-reader for audio if a computer is not handy. Some have switched exclusively to audio, so e-readers don’t make sense for them to invest in.

    Reply

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