The entire modern e-reader industry is assembled and manufactured in China. There are hardly any devices that are currently available that are not made in various factories, the only exceptions are the Kobo and Nook line of e-readers, which are made in Taiwan. The Japanese version of the DPT line of e-notes is made in Japan, but the ones that were available in the US, where made in China.
Modern day China can be considered a villian, by many mainstream media outlets. They are constantly accused of implementing spyware on smartphones, televisions, routers and other enterprise solutions. Many companies are blacklisted from doing business in Canada, US and the UK. The country recently invaded Hong Kong and has received condemnation from virtually every country. Maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back was COVID, first a regional thing and now a very real global pandemic. Basically, there is lots of negative sentiment towards China and Chinese companies, some deserved, some not. I know we have received lots of emails lately about product recommendations that don’t come from China, and it is almost impossible to avoid it.
E-readers have always been made in China, for over a decade. E INK, the leading e-paper manufacturer that is virtually all of the modern e-readers and e-notes is based in Taiwan, but almost all of their factories are located in China. Plastic Logic is an alternative to E INK, but their tech is also made there. Clearink, a color e-paper company stuck in development hell, was recently purchased by Chinese investors and all future products will now be manufactured there.
When it comes to e-reader companies, some elect to just have the factory and design team that has always assembled/manufactured their product, to continue to do so. Amazon, Pocketbook and Remarkable conduct their own industrial design. When it comes time for assembly and mass production, everything is done in China. Some of the components used for certain e-readers, might come from other countries, such as batteries or processors. Many e-readers employ Freescale/NXP chips and they are located in the Netherlands.
Amazon has been making steps to not have all of their production eggs in one basket and have started to gravitate away from exclusively having everything made in China. They have a longstanding relationship with Foxconn, who has been opening up factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and expanding their US factory.
Personally, it doesn’t really matter to me, where something is made. I really like unique products that bring some fresh new ideas or pay really special attention to industrial design. The Entourage Edge was the perfect example of bringing something new to the table – a dual screen device, that opened and closed like a real book, one side was LCD and could run apps, the other was E INK. The Rocketbook paved the way for the modern e-reader industry, and inspired Jeff Bezos to create the Kindle, which became the most successful e-reader, ever. The Sony DPT-S1 was the first modern day e-note and created an entire new sector of consumer/business products from companies like Onyx, Boyue, Supernote, Remarkable, Quirklogic, Fujitsu and many others.
I have been reviewing e-readers and providing news coverage on the industry since 2007, the year the very first Kindle came out and have written over 9500 articles. Sitewide, various authors have conducted over 15,000 news stories, reviews, previews, interviews and ebook/audiobook news. I have seen the rise and fall, and rise again of the e-reader industry. I have tons of industry contacts from around the globe, and don’t discriminate against anyone, I am Canadian after all. The purpose of this piece was to merely let people know where their e-readers and e-notes are being designed, assembled, and manufactured. Whatever your personal politics are, or where they come from, let’s all just enjoy reading digitally.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.