Image of Cool-er e-Reader via Cooler
Cool-er e-readers was a promising competitor against the Kindle last year when it announced it was cheaper and had more titles than the e-reader darling from Amazon. However, a year later, the company has gone under, showing that the booming market for e-reader devices is finally starting to balance out with some clear winners and losers. It also shows that e-readers aren't as much of a sure thing in the electronics market as once thought. Fast Company reports that the UK-based Interread had sold around 37,000 units in over 30 countries since launching the first version of the Cool-er e-reader. However, it wasn't enough. Interead was legally closed down for a lack of financial backing from its bank, though Cool-er readers are still being sold by some retailers and e-books for the device will still be available through Coolerbooks.com.
The shut-down goes to show that even though we saw a crazy boom in the number of e-readers hitting the market earlier in the year, we're now reaching the point when only the best will make it in the market.
E-reader manufacturers from Sony to Amazon, from Barnes & Noble to Apple are all working hard to make e-readers the next must-have tool for libraries, schools, and print outlets like magazines and newspapers. The devices are sure to have their niche among some markets such as these, but among mainstream consumers, it's still a challenge to win out first over printed books and then over other devices.
As Fast Company writes, "Though Interead claimed to have 20% of the U.K. e-reader game, and had an ecosystem to supply its devices with content--copying Amazon's model on a smaller scale--the market let it down... With other manufacturers already aiming at dropping the price of their stripped-down single-purpose e-reader devices in a race to the bottom, Interead's demise will be a sharp reminder of the stark future e-readers face in the market."
As the consumer market works out the winning and losing features of the ideal e-reader, manufacturers are working on features that include more paper-like screens that can display color and even video, and ways for readers to navigate digital publications as if they were still using the printed version.
While the loss of Cool-er shows us that the market is weeding out the weaklings in the e-reader market, it most definitely doesn't say that e-readers and digital publications are on the way out as an alternative to print (after all, last Christmas Amazon sold more digital books than printed books, and during Black Friday it sold more Kindles than anything else in its marketplace). The only thing it is saying, is that e-readers are still a fledgling market, and consumers are picky.
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