Reports Of The Death Of The Kindle Are Slightly Over Exaggerated

Many reports indicate that Kindle is being overshadowed by newer and better devices and may signify the beginning of the end for the e-Reader. However there are other factors in play that suggest it's too early to be purchasing the nails for its coffin.

While iPads may be giving Kindle a run for its money as a competitor, it certainly hasn't deterred e-Book sales. As more and more bookstores begin to shutter their doors, and as libraries slowly become dinosaurs, recent sales of e-Books for Kindle's e-Readers outnumbered those for hardcovers - for the first time.

According to a New York Times report, as of the last quarter, Amazon is selling 143 Kindle books for every hardcover, including traditional books where there is no Kindle edition. To put this in perspective, while Kindle has 630,000 Kindle books in its store, that number is a small fraction of the millions of traditional hardcover books sold on the site.

Like legacy newspapers, the new century is ushering in new channels of distribution, and the ease of purchasing online counterparts to traditional publishing is preferred. With Kindle's recent price reductions and availability in department stores like Target, Amazon has even strayed from their original business model to broaden their reach and target more customers.

Jeff BezosJeff BezosThe shift at Amazon is “astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months,” the chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, said in a statement.

Amazon says consumers love the price and convenience of e-books. The vast majority of Amazon's e-books cost less than $10. Hardcover books average about $25.

While the iPad competition may at some point overtake the e-Reader market, due to screen glare and shorter battery-life, many hard-core readers don't consider it a true reading device. Also the Kindle weighs 10.2 ounces, compared to the lowest cost iPad coming in at 24 ounces. However, in many instances, many consumers still prefer to own both devices.

After lowering their prices in June from $259 to $189, Amazon reported that Kindle tripled their sales. However Amazon's stock price fell approximately 16 percent during the same period and Apple has sold three million iPads over the course of the last 3 months.

Other naysayers don't see a bright future for Kindle. The Credit Suisse research analyst Spencer Wang estimated that Amazon's share of e-book sales would fall from 90 percent to 35 percent in the next five years, and Google has  already opened up doors to offer half-a-million e-Books for Kindle's competitor - the Sony Reader.

So while Kindle struggles to disprove the rumors of its demise, I think Jeff Bezos will not let his brain-child give up the ghost just yet. With a keener assessment of the market, if Kindle's next version was to add color, touch-screen functionality and some multi-tasking features, its got a shot at turning the tables and recapturing its original popularity, when it was the first "e-Reader kid" on the block.

That is of course, until something better comes along.

For more reports and comparison shopping analyses on Kindle and the e-Reader market, check out my previous posts: