Where does an e-reader fit in to a consumer electronics industry ruled by smartphones with ever-growing displays and tablets that are becoming slimmer and smaller? Nowhere, according to market research firm iSuppli

The firm's numbers show that 23.2 million e-readers were shipped in 2011, the most in the device's history. Unfortunately, that figure is expected to dramatically fall off by the end of 2012. ISuppli believes only 14.9 million e-readers will be shipped come January 1. 

The trend, says the firm, will continue into the next year, with shipments expected to fall another 27% to 10.9 million units. If the decline seems drastic, that's because it is. 

"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," said iSuppli in the report. 

With every major e-reader company also now selling tablets and traditional tablet makers like Apple producing smaller tablets that are easier to carry around, it's not a big surprise that iSuppli expects shipments to shrink to 7.1 million units by 2016. 

[via The Next Web]