eReaders are already on the decline, even as eBook sales continue to rise. Two factors are largely in play on this: expense of a dedicated eReader to cheaper Android tablets, and people keeping their eReaders for longer.
The cheapest Kindle is $69, but to get a touchscreen you need to spend $119 (up from the $100 I paid for my Kindle Touch two years ago). The cheapest Nook is $79 and actually seems to be better in most substantive ways than the new Nook GlowLight (especially since the GlowLight does not have an expansion SD slot and the Simple Touch does*).
For $10 more you can get a Nook HD, or a cheap 7″ Android tablet (my Polaroid, which admittedly is not the best tablet ever, was $60).
And eReaders do less now than they used to. Amazon has cut the storage space in half (emphasizing their cloud storage), as well as eliminating MP3 playback and text-to-speech. The original Nook could pay games and music but the Simple Touch does neither (nor does it have a web-browser like the Kindle).
In short eReaders are crappier than they used to be, and the better ones cost almost as much as tablets, which people seem to want to buy more anyway, since they can DO so much more.
That said, I think eReaders are better for reading, perhaps more now than ever, because of their dedicated nature.
I started with a Fire and dabbled in a couple of eBooks, but realistically finished none. Then I got a Touch about seven months later and am reading a book or two a month. (Okay, maybe not the best for showing off on Goodreads, but way better than I had been doing). eReaders are easier on the eyes, and more importantly, don’t tempt me with things to take me away from reading. The Fire was great for magazines, and short reading jaunts, but the sit around for hours readers are my two Touches (Kindle and Nook).
I wish eReader manufacturers would make them cheaper, and as full featured as some generations have been. My current eReader, the Kindle Touch, is the most full featured book experience, with text-to-speech allowing me to turn any book into an audio book, and letting me play music while I read, while at the same time keeping me largely focused on the reading. Touch screens feel the most to me like turning pages, but the combination of buttons and swiping on the Nook Simple Touch is also very flexible.
Dedicated eReaders are more of luxury if we’re being honest. Since most people want to play games, surf the web, and maybe get some work done on a tablet, an eReader does little to add to those experiences. Most of us probably don’t have, or don’t want to spend money on both.
But for me anyway, reading on an eReader is the most like reading on a book a tablet can get. There are some imperfections in the way the Nook Simple Touch renders the eInk that feel almost like the variations some printed books have. Even the best tablets can have some glare, especially in the sun, and as someone who stares at screens all the time a change can be nice.
How about you? Do you read on a tablet or an eReader, or do you still crave the analog experience? Do you feel distracted by tablets, or does it all feel a little cold and technical?
*Yes, the processor on the GlowLight is slightly better, there are a few more pixels, and there’s a built-in book light, but the Simple Touch refreshes quickly, can be expanded to 8 times the storage capacity of the GlowLight, and is $40 bucks cheaper.