Science fiction writers make predictions. I'm going to make one right now. Actually, I've been thinking about this, for a while, but this article from a UK blog reminded me.
Right now, people buy an e-reader for about 100 to 200 bucks. Or they buy a tablet or smartphone and put the app on it.
The Kindle and Nook apps for smartphones are free. Why? Because they want people to buy content.
So, here is my prediction:
Within 5 years, people will not buy e-readers. E-readers will be so cheap that they will be routinely given away by content distributors.
The first company to make this move will be Amazon, which will start offering a free e-reader with a two year commitment to its Prime service, which now includes a 'Netflix for books' style lending library. Said free e-reader will most likely be the e-Ink reader currently priced at $79 or its next model replacement.
I predict this move will occur in time for Christmas 2012 (if not sooner).