Calling for the demise of E-Ink readers is premature

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I’ve been reading posts saying that “E-Ink is dead” for, well, years now. The general argument goes something like this:

“People really want tablets. They don’t want a single-function device. E-ink is too slow to refresh and isn’t good for anything except reading books. And people don’t read anyway.”

All of those things are true (well, except for that last one), but it misses the point. I’m active on Kindleboards, an online forum for Kindle lovers, and discussion, purchasing and love for the e-Ink Kindles is alive and well.

The Kindle Paperwhite was sold out through most of the holiday season, both on Amazon and in retail stores that carry it. I was at my local Best Buy just before Christmas and noticed something interesting in the open box cabinet. Lots of iPad Minis. A couple of $69 Kindles and no Paperwhites. (Bummer for me. I was kind of hoping to pick one up on the cheap.)

Do I think that means the iPad Mini is a flop? No, but I do think it means people love their Kindles. Sales are flattening, yes, but in part that’s because e-ink devices are sturdy and last a long time. They aren’t as feature driven as tablets and don’t become obsolete as soon. I know people who are still happy with their first generation Kindles.

If you listen to e-book readers, a significant number of them want a device that does nothing but allow them to read books. I’m one of them. I have an iPad and a Kindle Touch, and I read on both, depending on my mood and where I’m at. I’m pretty sure Amazon is listening to them, and they will continue to produce Kindles as long as there’s a market for them. Which means their competitors will do the same.

Will e-ink go away eventually? Sure. Floppy disks did. But I think it’s going to be far enough in the future that calling for its death now is silly.

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