E-Reader Wars

It’s amazing how intense the battle has become between the various companies slinging their latest devices for reading e-books. I remember the exact moment when I first heard about the Amazon Kindle. In fact, I said, “Really? That would never sell.”

… yeah, don’t put me in charge of business predictions, folks.

As you know, the Kindle is the leading e-reader among buyers. In 2010, the Kindle sold about 22 million units. Meanwhile, major-minor players like Barnes & Noble and Borders tried to play catch-up with their own respective launches. Then Apple’s iPad hit, and while iBooks makes it seem like a major player in the game, the fact that it’s more tablet than e-reader places it within an entirely different arena.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Nook and Kobo – in fact, I own a NookColor and love it to pieces. I never liked the Kindle for aesthetic reasons; I don’t like black text on a gray background, the Kindle does look like a huge calculator, and while eInk is really neat, I’m not crazy about it.  I know a lot of my preferences stem from the fact that I’m a cartoonist and love the world of color too much – hence my current e-reader of choice.

For whatever reason, though, the Kindle has become insanely popular and continues to have a strong hold on the e-reader market. I see people reading all the time on their Kindles while riding the T – as a native Miamian residing in Boston, it is a lovely thing to witness on public transportation.

But what about the Kobo?

Honestly, I don’t know much about it. I thought Barnes & Noble had a lot of work to do to compete with the Kindle, but the Kobo is in an even worse spot. The company is doing good things, though: as a result of its “Read On Revolution,” Kobo donated 100 of its devices to a high school, as well as $3,000 worth of e-books.

Additionally, according to The Toronto Star,

In the U.S., Amazon.com’s Kindle is the market leader with a 41 per cent share, followed by Barnes & Noble at 27 per cent. Kobo ranks third somewhere “in the double digits.”

What are “double digits”? At least 10 percent, I guess. But Kobo needs to step up its game in order to really compete with Nook and Kindle. I have a pretty extensive selection of e-books through B&N, as well as magazines. Oh, and apps, including one of the angry bird variety.

What does the Kobo bring to the table?

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About Iris Amelia

Graduate student at Emerson College. Likes the color purple.

Posted on June 27, 2011, in amazon, barnes and noble, borders, e-readers, kindle, kobo, nook. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think part of the reason that the Kobo isn’t doing well stems from “instability” in its company, which is independent, right, and aided distribution via Borders? With recent filing of Bankruptcy, people probably just don’t have faith in the company. The same goes for Amazon versus Barnes and Noble – Amazon seems like a more stable market, even though Barnes and Noble hasn’t showed signs of being in danger.

    The Kindle is really nifty and it is the one I use, although the choice was made for me as it was a gift. I like the simplicity of it, and I feel if it had colors it would hurt my eyes more than they already do when I read for extended periods of time. The lack of back light and the gimmicky e-Ink are charming and appealing features.

    As for the Kobe – I’m not as knowledgeable in it since it’s, like you illustrated, all the way at the bottom. I don’t think people view it as stable and thus refuse to invest in it, though.

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