Many people think that the Kindle was the first ebook reader, but that actually isn’t true. Before the Kindle was introduced in 2007, there were several other ebook readers. There were several earlier electronic devices that had book reading capabilities in them. But it wasn’t easy to get books for them. In 1992 Sony released an ebook reader called the Data Discman, which you could use to read books on CDs.
The Bookeen CyBook, a dedicated ebook reader, was released in 1998. Some people even say that the ebook reader was invented as early as 1949 by a teacher in Spain for her students (although this was of course very different from the electronic book readers we think of today).
Although there were ways to read ebooks, and even dedicated ebook readers, before the Kindle, it wasn’t until its introduction that ebooks and ebook readers became more popular.
How the Kindle & the iPad affected ebook sales
As I said, there were several other options for reading ebooks before the Kindle came along. But it seems like it was the Kindle that really sparked the ebook-reading popularity that we are seeing now.
Amazon released its Kindle in 2007. Just four years after the introduction of the Kindle, ebook sales outnumbered hardcover book sales on Amazon. Then, just one year later, ebook sales outnumbered all print book sales on Amazon.
Not only did the Kindle spark a huge growth in ebook sales, but many say that the iPad also had a lot to do with the growth of ebook sales. When the iPad was released in 2010, Kindle was ready with its iPad app. And at almost the exact same time that the iPad was released, that was when ebook sales really started to grow even more than they had before.
So it’s definitely safe to say that, even though the Kindle seems to have had the most direct effect on ebook sales in our country (at least on Amazon), that the iPad has definitely played its part in increasing the popularity of ebooks.
The good news
Whether the Kindle or the iPad are completely responsible for the growth of ebook sales is hard to say. The truth is, there have been many other ebook readers introduced in the past several years that also have had a huge part in increasing the popularity of ebooks.
But with the popularity and large sales of the Kindle and the iPad, there is no doubt that other ebook readers have had to scramble to stay competitive. And that is the good news. That as each of these ebook readers work to stay relevant, and be able to keep their share of the market, they are each being forced to stay on top of their game.
They are coming out with newer, better models. These readers are getting smaller, lighter, easier to use, and less expensive. They are increasing in functionality: with web capabilities, touch screens and more. So for ebook owners, we are definitely reaping the benefits.
On top of that, with the continued growth of popularity of ebook readers, more and more books are now becoming available with ebook formats. There are even many books that are offered for free as ebooks.
So the good news? Anyone who likes reading ebooks will continue to see better ebook readers, more ebooks becoming available, and less expensive readers and ebooks in general. I would definitely say that is a win for us!