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Despite initial popularity, eBook readers see massive drop in sales

Sales of eBook readers have fallen by a whopping 36 per cent compared to last year, prompting fears that the market for them is collapsing.

Figures published by research firm iSuppli show that worldwide sales of eBook readers fell from 23.2 million units in 2011 to 14.9 million by the end of this year. iSuppli predicts that sales will decline further by 26 per cent in 2013 to 10.9 million.

iSuppli says that the decline is "alarming" and that "the rapid growth, followed by the immediate collapse of the eBook market is virtually unheard of, even in the notoriously short life cycle of products inhabiting the volatile consumer electronics space."

The firm also says the figures point to a declining trend which may the see the end of the eBook reader. Sales will be as low as 7.1 million units by 2016, iSuppli predicts. The main reason behind this, the company claims, is the rising popularity of multi-use devices likes tablets which are making eBook readers redundant. In a market that now offers a Nexus 7 tablet for £159, customers may see tablets as more value for money than spending £69 on a single-use eBook reader, the company explains.

However, the case may be different for Amazon, which last month reported the single biggest day of sales ever for its Kindle range. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has admitted to selling Kindle products at cost price and making profits on the sales of eBooks bought for the device, which may help the retailer insulate itself against sales drops in eBook readers.

Possibly anticipating the waning popularity of eBook readers, Amazon recently launched its budget-friendly tablet range, with the Kindle Fire products priced between £109 and £169.

Image Credit: Flickr (Andrew Mason)