Ereader Update: The War Rages On

It started with a slash—a price slash, that is—and just like that it seems ereaders are back in the news. This summer we have seen price wars, the launch of a new device, rumors of a coup from an unknown, and even a few ‘deaths’ in the ereader family. All of this followed by an announcement this week; is Barnes & Noble really up for grabs?

Some have wondered whether traditional ereaders are a passing fad in the coming “age of the tablet,” spearheaded by Apple’s,, iPad. Regardless of which side of this debate you are on, the truth is it has been quite a busy few months for the ereader market.

Last week Amazon released Kindle 3, a Wi-Fi-only version that is also smaller and lighter, for just $139. According to the device’s Web page, it has already sold out. This all follows heavy activity earlier in the summer, when back on June 21, Barnes & Noble,, debuted the nook Wi-Fi-only version for $149 and lowered the price of its 3G version to $199. Within hours, Amazon,, slashed the price of its top-selling Kindle with 3G to $189—undercutting the nook by a mere 10 bucks.

Meanwhile a new contender is making preparations to launch its ereading platform within the next 30 days. In addition to its social media-oriented platform, Copia,, a subsidiary of DMC Worldwide, will offer a five-inch color ereader this fall for a mere $99. The Wave5 is just one of a full suite of ereaders the company plans to release by the end of this year.

Of course, war has its causalities. Many lesser-known ereaders have come and gone with little fanfare, sometimes without ever making it to market in the first place. Others began the process, but have had to put plans on hold and cancel pre-orders, probably indefinitely.

Not everything is dismal, however. Amazon announced in July ebooks are officially outselling traditional books in its online marketplace. “Over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books,” the company states in a press release. “Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”

Lastly, Barnes & Noble threw a curveball this week by announcing its board of directors intends to “evaluate strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company.” Industry buzz already speculates about as a potential buyer, which is an interesting scenario to consider.

For a market that has been all but handed an expiration date, the ereader space has certainly been entertaining to watch throughout the past few months. Whether the tablets take over, or the ereaders rise again, the future of connected devices as a staple in our society seems set in stone.

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