E-readers expected to be popular gift this Christmas; iPads, not so much

kindle-most-wished-for-giftThe New York Times suggests that this is going to be the “tipping point” holiday season for e-book readers. Though Kindles have been hot Christmas gifts over the last couple of years, this is the first season that e-readers are going to be widely available for under $150 (and indeed, under $100 in some cases). This means, in turn, that a lot more e-books are going to be sold to read on those e-readers.

The NYT article has figures from various sources suggesting that over ten million e-book readers will be in circulation by the end of the year, that 1 in 5 Kindle owners received it as a gift, and 10% of adults plan to give an e-reader as a gift this year (up from 4% last year). And there are a lot more brands of cheap e-book reader available (especially in Black Friday sales).

However, there are so many e-book readers that the choices could prove confusing to consumers, notes Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey.

“The range of choices is actually going to be perplexing,” Mr. McQuivey said. “And when that happens, consumers go back to the tried-and-true brands that have trust and good word of mouth.”

(Found via eBookNewser.)

However, if e-book readers are going to be a popular holiday gift, it appears iPads may not be. Bloomberg reports that some analysts are predicting Apple may miss estimates of 6 million devices sold in the fourth quarter due to consumers cutting back spending or going with other devices instead.

“It’s a nice-to-have product, for those of us who don’t have a budget, but is it a must-have product? I don’t think so,” said New York-based [analyst Ashok] Kumar, who rates the shares “market outperform” and doesn’t own any.

Given that the cheapest iPad costs several times as much as most e-book readers (and, indeed, more than many laptops), it is certainly not surprising that fewer people will be giving them for Christmas.

Though the article does not suggest this, I suspect it is also possible that expectations of a new model of iPad to come out in March or April, incorporating improvements such as a FaceTime camera, may also be depressing sales figures for the iPad. I would certainly not advise people to buy one right now.

(Found via eBookNewser.)

6 Comments on E-readers expected to be popular gift this Christmas; iPads, not so much

  1. I really wish people would stop comparing the iPad to an e-reader. Most e-readers are a single use device made to read e-books (some have the web browser and games) but until they all can display in color (as the new colornook can) and provide a host of apps, it is so not fair to compare the ipad to it.

    The iPad is lite alternative to a laptop, mini laptop or some other branded tablet device. I own the iPod Touch, an iPad and a nook e-reader and each one services it purpose. It’s just a matter of what you want to do with the device. For those that wish to jump into the iPad pool, it is a pricey item, but the uses for the device really makes it worth while. One of it’s selling points is the comfort that I get in using it as opposed to using my laptop or mac book.

  2. Vic is right. Laptops, an iPad, and an ereader are very different devices. With its keyboard, a laptop is best for those who create content. With a color screen that’s easy to use sitting someplace comfortable, an iPad is best for consuming content like webpages and videos. And finally, with its easy-on-the-eyes epaper screen and long battery life, readers like the Kindle create the most comfortable way to read.

    Comparing them as if they were competitors is like claiming that increased sales of Ford F-350 pickup trucks will mean fewer sales of subcompacts. The real difference as Christmas approaches is that the low-end Kindle is within the price range of most gift-giving, while the iPad isn’t. And a Kindle can become a gift that keeps giving for people who buy a lot of read-just-once books.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

  3. “Some analysts”, yeah I’ll bet. Anyone who trusts analysts predictions on such matters is probably a believer in astrology too. They’re always wrong, always. Why anyone pays them for their nonsense is beyond me. Yet, no matter how often they’re wrong their next set of predictions is reported as gospel, as if what they say might prove correct this time!

  4. I create on a desktop computer with big 24″ screen, 2 monitors and a real keyboard.

    I access the internet on the road with a laptop with a ‘fair’ keyboard and 15″ screen.

    I hold my eBook reader in one hand and turn pages while holding a cup of coffee in the other. Anything larger or heavier just isn’t comfortable to hold for long periods of time, and requires frequent recharging.

    The point is, that no one device works well for all tasks. Most people buy a few hardbacks for bookshelf display but read hundreds of paperbacks, usually after the price has dropped. Books, even paperbacks, get expensive when you read several a week, and avid readers will flock to the cheaper prices of eBooks, despite the downside of being largely unable to swap reading material with friends. Until that happens (removal of DRM), hardcover and paperbacks will continue to fill a significant place in our lives.

  5. David wrote:
    “Anyone who trusts analysts predictions on such matters is probably a believer in astrology too. They’re always wrong, always. Why anyone pays them for their nonsense is beyond me. Yet, no matter how often they’re wrong their next set of predictions is reported as gospel, as if what they say might prove correct this time!”

    100% right David !!

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