How Often Do People Buy New eBook Readers?


Certain types of electronics like phones and tablets are upgraded so frequently that people often buy a new model every couple of years, sometimes every year.

But when it comes to dedicated ebook readers things move a lot more slowly. Some brands like Kindles and Kobos have been using the same processors for 5 years. That just doesn’t happen with many types of electronics.

How many people are still using cell phones from 8 years ago?

Yet there are quite a few people still using the Kindle Keyboard and it dates back to 2010.

Upgraded ereaders come along less frequently than other types of gadgets, and then when a newer model is released it’s often 90% the same as the previous version.

A typical ereader user might buy a new model every 4-8 years or so. Some visitors on this blog probably upgrade more frequently, being avid readers and ereader enthusiasts, but I bet the average users waits several years between upgrades.

What’s your take on the subject? How long does the typical ebook reader upgrade cycle last?

32 Responses to “How Often Do People Buy New eBook Readers?”

  1. I purchased a Nook Simple Touch for my mother-in-law and niece several years ago. Knowing what it could and couldn’t do I picked up one used a few years ago off Craigslist.

    I only this Christmas upgraded to a Kobo Aura One. Even then I was going back and forth between it and the new Nook GlowLight 3. The only thing that tipped the scales for the Kobo are the additional formats that are supported on it versus the Nook. If the Nook supported CBZ/CBR files I likely would have gone with it.

    Regardless of which device I would have gone with I intent to stick with it until it gives up the ghost. I see little to no reason to be on an upgrade treadmill with an eReader.

    As I watch companies add more and more features I’m more and more disinterested. Adding Audible support to a reader? No thanks. IF I were to use/want Audible I’d just use my phone. Manufactures need to stop adding features and look to just making things damn simple and easy to use.

  2. I use all my electronics, including e-readers, until they physically break, or until the software has been unsupported and lacking updates in so long that the device becomes non-functional. But that’s because I’m a happy miser.

  3. Has anyone tried the Audible Romance Package? I love it. It’s like Unlimited Book on Amazon. It’s under $10. Will the next Kindle have speakers?

  4. Kobo, and in general all ebook manufacturers, gives me very little reason to upgrade. So why should I?

    I have been looking for an e-ink based tablet to use as my primary device – for reading, email and browsing. I don’t play games or need to watch youtube. I don’t understand why manufacturers are fixated on proving the ability to play videos on a reading device. Just give me a good spec-ed device, preferably Android based, that I can do reading on (including zoom and scroll without 10 second lag on pdfs), do email, browse internet, read news and articles. I have come to believe that ebook manufacturers, except Amazon, are not interested to have repeat customers.

  5. While it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, the Paperwhite remains my eReader of choice. The look and feel(?) of the screen is perfect. PLUS, it doesn’t have anything that distracts you from simply… reading. Until there is a version with a larger, equal quality, screen at a reasonable price, I don’t see any reason to switch.

  6. I generally start looking seriously when the page-turn buttons on the old reader are showing obvious degradation due to wear and tear, and it probably gets to 3-4 years before I actually buy a new one.

  7. Sony PRS T1. Easy to read AND plays MP3’s. The music is very important to me as I like to read & listen. Same old SD card with my reading & music library. Gets a little buggy but I know them bugs and work around them. The loss is SD card & MP3 player is a very big. Bought for the wifi but that seems to have gone away. I use a cord now

  8. Everyone in my family (my father, my wife, my three kids and myself) have a Kindle Paperwhite. Two of my kids have a Kindle Fire.

    And while I do read from Paperwhite, usually when I’m reading in bed, I also own three working Kindle Keyboards. It is still my preferred Kindle (and I own three because I buy them when I can find them at a reasonable price since they don’t make them anymore).

    I prefer the keyboard for it’s page navigation. I don’t want to have to touch or swipe my screen to turn the page. It is much more convenient (and actually more realistic) to flip the button with my thumb to turn page. When I’m reading a physical book (a paperback), I let a page flip from under my thumb.

    • I agree with you Daniel. I love the older e-ink Amazon Kindle with a keyboard and/or the Kindle Touch. I found a replacement battery for my old Kindle Touch on ebay for $7.50. And I found a Youtube video that showed how to replace the battery in a Touch or Kindle Keyboard model.I don’t like the newer backlit models or color Amazon Kindle Fire models because I get eye strain with them. I can read my Touch for hours with no strain. And it’s battery lasts for weeks without recharging it.

  9. My Kobo Glo is 5 years old and I have no plans to replace it at the moment. It does everything I need.

    And I still use a Nokia 6300 cellphone….10 years old, one new battery, no recharging woes or app distractions.

  10. I always stay 1 generation behind on technology

    so when a new one comes out I buy the older model when it drops in price

    unfortunately, the oasis is so expensive 🙁

  11. One issue with the slow upgrades of the ereaader industry is that ereaders are still a niche market. It’s still hard to find them for sale in some countries. Tablets are easy to find.

  12. I just use mine until they break. That said, I’m now on my fourth Kobo, no fault of Kobo, I have just managed to wear out three readers over 15 or so years. Currently use a Kobo Aura and don’t plan to change until it breaks.

    The only changes over that time that I feel have been of significance are:
    – usable backlighting
    – waterproof
    – direct OverDrive eBook loans

  13. I’m an obsessive reader. My daughter bought me my first Kindle Fire in 2012, and my brother, a Nook Color at the same time. Since then I have bought 3 more Fires.(2014, 2016, 2017). My first one went to my husband who enjoys it for just reading There are apps that will not work on this old Kindle Fire. My 2nd one back to my daughter to replace her Kindle with a keyboard. I am now using my third, but have already bought a new Kindle Fire so I can give this one to my husband. The Nook was very disappointing. Very few apps, ability only to sideload my ebooks, whereas on the Fire I can email them. I have watched only ONE movie on my Fire in all these years so Amazon can really scratch that. I will be looking at a different reader next year to use while my Fire is charging so I’m reading all the remarks here very intently. I now read on my cell but hate it so I am looking into audible for that.

  14. I usually wind up getting every other top of the line model for the Kindle. So I guess every 2-4 years depending on the current release cycle. But I consider myself an enthusiast. If it wasn’t for my old models that I hand out to friends and family, I suppose they would still be using something more dated compared.

  15. I’m using boyue (T62+), for over 3 years, and im starting to get the itch to buy a new one. what i’m looking for for my next ereader is turn page buttons, backlight, and preferably an open android based OS, so i can install and use any ereader app i want (as i do on my current one)

  16. I tend to get a different Kindle if something comes around with a feature I’d really like. Like the PW’s front light, but I really wanted buttons again, so I got a Voyage. When the Oasis and Oasis 2 came out, I tried to love them but I guess I didn’t because they didn’t really “wow” me. I’m still using my Voyage because it has everything I love. (Although perhaps I might upgrade to a Voyage 2 with real buttons if that were to surface.)

    • I have downloaded from Google play about 5-6 ereader apps to my Kindle Fire including Aldiko, Nook, Pocketbook, Kobo, FB, Presigio, Moon+, etc. You name it, I’ve tried it. They all work beautifully, don’t slow down my kindle. I like Aldiko, Nook and Pocketbook especially because they have no ads. I get all my emails on the Fire and Facebook as well. And the internet works fine as well. It’s a great little ereader/tablet.

  17. Right now, I have two Kindle Voyages. I will either keep them until they break, or until a “new killer feature” is unveiled in a new model, whatever that new feature may be.

  18. I’ve been using e-readers for (about) the last 7 – 8 years and I *still* have the first models that I bought (Kindle DX & Nook 2nd Gen). Their features are outdated but they still work.

    For about the last 5 years or so, though, only 2 of the devices that I’ve owned — Kobo H2O & Nook White– are still among the living with none of the others lasting more than 18 months. One Inkbook had a broken screen and 4 — Voyage, PaperWhite 1, PqperWhite 3 & Kobo Aura One — all developed USB problems.

    Whether it’s just a run of bad luck or planned obsolescence or mistreatment by me, there’s a stark contrast between the build quality of old and new e-readers, at least for me.

    Fingers crossed that my Aura One LE survives longer than 18 months.

  19. I still have the kindle with builtin cell coverage. I can no longer sync.I have an iPad with the kindle software which syncs with my note8 so I love that approach. Would like to acquire a Fire(my wife has one) but at the current price points.

  20. My Nook Simple Touch bought used in 2013 still works, thanks to all the bells and whistles of custom firmware and a very active comunity on XDA. Some apps are getting tricky to run as they use outdated certificates or deprecated technology, but the battery still holds a charge, wifi works, screen is okay.
    I’ve often been tempted by more recent hardware, but since the use of an ereader is very defined for me, I hardly ever find a valid reasion to upgrade.
    It’s different with the phone and tablet (currently a Note 8 plus an Acer Switch Alpha), which are more productivity-oriented devices. They have to support the latest apps, give me a decent performance and keep up with trends in communications and technology to get me through the day more efficiently. So I replace them regularly – phone every 24 months, tablet/laptop every 36.
    An ereader is more of a leisure device for me – to give a comfortable reading and library management experience for several ecosystems is the most important part, and there’s not much to innovate here. All other features I look for, like wifi, browsing, mail, calendar, is about 1/10th as important as that.

    • While my Nook Simple Touch still works, I don’t use it now because I prefer the fonts on other devices. What software you recommend for getting the Nook Simple Touch to use other fonts?

  21. My current ebook reader is a Kobo Aura HD. I bought it not long after it had come out, mid-2013, so it is coming up on 5 years old. It was my second ebook reader after the Kindle 4, which I had only owned for a year. The Kindle was pretty basic, and gave me a taste for something better. Since then I’ve not seen anything that gave enough improvements to make me want to upgrade, so I may use this one until it dies. I always keep an eye out for possible replacements though.

  22. I continue to useereades and tablets until the devices are significantly upgraded or they are obsoleted. My first ereader is the Sony PRS-350 which I still own. If it had WiFi I would use it regularly. I like it’s size. I followed the Sony with the Kindle touch screen then the first PaperWhite. I now own a gen 3 PaperWhite. I couldn’t resist Amazon’s rebate. I own more tablets than ereaders, 7 in total. I usually am reading 4 to 5 books at any time, a different one on each tablet. I find it easier to keep track of what I’m reading with one book open on each device. Otherwise, I lose track of what I’m reading. I currently have 1,829 ebooks in my library and I’m sure there are 20-30 I’ve started and would finish if I could remember their titles.

  23. Still using Kindle 3. Still good for text reading so not interested in other 6″ models. Waiting for a bigger size Kindle for years but in vain.

  24. I had an Aura HD (2013, still going strong) but really wanted the larger screen of the Kobo Aura ONE, so upgraded last year. No regrets, absolutely love the device. I *may* upgrade my Voyage to the Oasis 2.

    In my early years of e-reading, I upgraded often. Between 2011 and 2013 I went from the original Nook Wifi to Sony 950 to the Kobo Aura HD.

    Now, I expect to read happily on the Aura ONE for several more years. At this point, about the only thing I could want might be a faster processor and better software. Or wireless charging or maybe USB C.

  25. I seem to get the latest and best kindle available…Really like the Oasis2! Amazon will need to bring out something special for me to upgrade this year.

  26. How often does one replace their TV or refrigerator? To me, the ereader is more like those – an appliance rather than a computer.

    Front-light, higher DPI and waterproofing are the only things on my ereader wishlist in terms of hardware and the Waterfi Kindle Paperwhite 3 checks all of those tick boxes (thanks for the tip on the Waterfi refurb sale!). Last time I bought an ereader was also a PW3 back in 2015. Now all my wishlist items are more software-related rather than hardware.

    Mind, even smartphones and tablets have been experiencing a slowdown in sales. There’s really not much reason to upgrade frequently nowadays.

  27. I tend to get a new ereader when they come out just because it’s a new gadget. Did not buy the Oasis because the feature set wasn’t among my needs over the Voyage that I already have. The Voyage is my primary reader at home and the Nook Glo3 and Kindle Keyboard are my away from home readers (depends on if I need lighting or not). These suckers last and last, at least until you drop them on something hard.

  28. I wait until the device is painfully slow (at turning pages etc) and until the battery no longer suits my needs. Or if it becomes significantly damaged.

    I am an avid reader (20-40 books a month) so a long battery life actually matters to me. However, I’m not adverse to upgrading if the new device fits my needs significantly more.

    My current primary reader is my Kindle Paperwhite which I got for christmas in 2016. My previous reader was a Sony PRS-650. On my
    (unrealistic over the top) wishlist for a new device is:
    -Multistore access with little effort [Google and Kindle being most important. Overdrive a close second]
    -Faster processor
    -Faster charging
    -Better E-Ink screen
    -Comic/Manga/Graphic novel support
    -Relatively cheap (I’m not going to pay $200+ if it isn’t even close to what I need)

  29. I still have my Kobo Mini that I purchased in December 2012. It’s a great piece of kit and I adore it. I wouldn’t think of buying a replacement unless the Kobo Mini 2 comes on to the market (and only then after a couple of years to allow for prices to fall)

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