Worldwide E-reader Market 2012 Recap and 2013 Forecast
October 04, 2012 / Ya Wei Ku
22 Page, Topical Report
US$2,200 (Single User License)


Under the influence of negative factors such as the popularity of tablets and the inventory buildups in North American channels, worldwide e-reader shipments are expected to see a year-on-year decline in 2012. However, with major players aggressively expanding the European, Latin American, and Asian markets, emerging markets are expected to bring sequential growth momentum for the e-reader market. This report examines the future development of e-readers in terms of product prices, regional markets, major players' product strategies, and potential niche markets.
  •  Table of Contents
  •  List of Topics
  •  List of Figures

Value-line Tablets Affect E-reader Growth in North America

In the past, tablets were twice as expensive as e-readers. But with the launch of value-line Android-based tablets such as Kindle Fire, the price gap is shrinking. Since tablets are also ideal for reading e-books, they offer a higher cost-to-performance ratio for US consumers who have been tightening their grip on spending due to economic depression. As tablets provide more functions at a lower price, e-readers have felt the threat.

In addition, e-paper is lacked of breaking-ground innovations in technologies, and vendors have been unable to eliminate the bottleneck in color and motion display. Since e-readers place a higher value on functionality than fashionable industrial design, consumers are less likely to buy new models due to new industrial designs. The durability of e-readers also slackens the replacement demand. With these factors, US e-reader sales are anticipated to see a decline in 2012 compared to 2011.

Emerging Market to Drive Future Growth

Amid the sluggish sales in the US, e-reader vendors have been seeking other markets for sales growth. Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble set foot in emerging markets such as Europe, Asia, and Latin America. However, in order to develop emerging markets, the abundance of e-books plays a key role. Without the support of a large number of e-books, these vendors will find it difficult to attract consumers to buy e-readers.

Thanks to the shared languages, Amazon and Kobo's Spanish and Portuguese e-books for the European countries can be sold in Latin America as well. This will facilitate the companies' entry to the new markets when they have only a limited amount of e-books.

In India, Amazon is introducing local writers' works to their e-book collections. Their abundant English e-books also provide a solid foundation for their development of the Indian market as English is widely used in India.

However, the small number of licensed e-books remains a problem in Japan and China. Local publishers are reluctant to make their publications available in e-book format, and whether or not e-books should bear DRM (Digital Right Management) protection remains an issue. In addition, Asian readers' reading habits are different from other regions. Therefore, vendors have to determine between applying the US market strategy to the Asian market and developing a proprietary business model for the region. The decision will influence the future of e-books and e-readers in Asia.

Streamlined Reading Platform and User Interface Designed for Optimized User Experiences

Compared with other multi-functional mobile devices, e-readers provide more dedicated functions; but their easy-on-the-eyes feature and low power consumption make them ideal for intensive reading. With e-book content continuing to enrich and diversify, vendors will be able to secure a certain position in the market if they can optimize e-reader designs based on the demand of target consumers.

To increase product differentiation between e-readers and other digital devices, vendors must emphasize user experiences such as optimizing reading platforms and user interface designs. By providing directories similar to libraries to help users search, vendors can create a personal library for users.

Vendors can also create cross-platform reading experiences so that users can read e-books purchased from various e-book platforms on their e-reader. This is like by means of a tablet, users can read e-books purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo platforms through applications.

Currently, e-readers usually are sold through one e-book distribution platform. That is, one e-reader can only support one channel players' e-book platform or a proprietary e-book format. For example, Kindle only supports its AZW format, instead of the international EPUB standard.

A wide variety of technologies and single-platform support have held back e-reader developments. Optimized user experiences and more applications designed based on an open platform will put the e-reader market development at an advantage.

List of Companies





Barnes & Noble










John Lewis




Kyobo Mungo


Livraria Cultura






Qualcomm Mirasol


Qualcomm MEMS




Shanda Cloudary





To get MIC's complete insight, please log in.