Thursday, June 10, 2010

The eBook reader bloodbath has begun

SlashGear is reporting that iRex Technologies, a Dutch eBook reader manufacturer, has filed for bankruptcy in the Netherlands. iRex had a distribution deal with Best Buy, but it wasn't enough to save the company.

In the eBook business, it's the eBook distributors and retailers who have the power, not the reader manufacturers. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo will continue to do well, since they've got content, readers and established distribution channels. Distributors like Ingram and Baker & Taylor have an opportunity to serve as "arms merchants" for those reader vendors without a strong in-house source of content, but in general, the non-integrated reader vendors are going to have a very difficult time of it. The readers themselves have largely become commodity products; factories in China and Taiwan can crank out just about any variation you want, so product differentiation is almost impossible. iRex is likely to be only the first of a string of failed eBook reader vendors.
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