e-Readers had their time in the sun and their popularity has slowly diminished. Gone are the days when the e-reader space was completely saturated with new e-paper companies and startups trying to capitalize on the e-book revolution. Many of the companies that first got involved in the e-reader space are all gone now. Aluratek, Cool-er, iRex, Txtr and Sony either went bankrupt or abandoned making e-readers. Hundreds of digital bookstores also went out of business such as Blinkbox Boox, Sony Reader Store and Diesel eBooks. The novelty of e-books has worn off and bookstores all over the world are now reporting a resurgence in print sales.
The Kindle “has disappeared to all intents and purposes”, said James Daunt the head of Britain’s biggest book chain Waterstones. He also reported that print book sales lifted by 5% in December. It sparked a flurry of questions about the e-reader’s death.
Australian bookseller Jon Page of Page and Pages said “Sales were up 3% last year, which is fantastic because for the last three years we’d actually seen a decline in that time.”
United States bookseller Barnes and Noble announced that their “Core” comparable bookstore sales, which exclude sales of NOOK products, increased 1.7% for the comparable holiday period. Whereas total comparable bookstore sales, including NOOK products, declined 0.6%.
Chapters Indigo, the largest bookseller in Canada reported during their Q2 2014 earnings call that they generated an extra $9.7 million, despite operating four fewer superstores. They reported double digit increases in print sales as customers are buying less e-readers and tablets.
Bookstores all over the world are reporting dramatic increases in print book sales. This comes at the expense of many of the longstanding e-reader brands and e-book stores closing in droves. Has the novelty of e-readers and e-book waned? I think people have come to realize that buying books on your device is anti-social and book readers are drawn to each other to talk about the things they love and to buy books at a physical store, amidst kindred spirits.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve 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. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.