The crazy new technology that everyone over the age of 40 (and every lame, self-conscious young luddite) decried as the inevitable death of the book industry — the dedicated e-reader — is already dying a slow but steady death, just 5 years into its existence. Because everyone realized they weren't getting the full, sentimental hands-on experience, "the smell of thing thing," right?
Hahaha no, silly, no one who money people would ever categorize as an "influencer" gives a shit about anything like that. What they do care about is convenience and the ability for an expensive device to do something besides displaying books and accommodating "rudimentary Web surfing." All the things that are offered by tablets, in other words.
"Giving consumers a digital storefront right in their hands, that's what really made e-readers a phenomenon," one research analyst explained this weekend in a Wall Street Journal article chronicling a 36% drop in the sale of dedicated e-readers (i.e. devices like Kindles and Nooks that exist for nothing but books) over the past year, in spite of an overall rise in the number of people reading e-books.
Which, of course, makes sense. Tablets have been getting smaller, more convenient, and cheaper than ever before. How can a similar device with a less attractive display that can only do one thing possibly keep up? It can't.
So once again, a sort of cheesy, hyped, one-purpose interim technology is being phased out of the market. May it rest in peace along with its fallen brothers, the Giga Pet and the pager. And anyway, this ultimately points to more people reading e-books, which is more people reading books, which is a great thing, remember? If you still need something to make you feel bad about the death of print and/or literature, though, there's always that preposterous New York Times article about the American Reader to fall back on. That one does the trick every time.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.