Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Sunday Salon... Are eReaders Taking Over the World?

Imagine someday that "dead tree" books are the rarity, and that the "now" generation has grown up never having to turn a page.. at least not one made of paper. It may not be so far fetched... at least to an extent. I remember going to a show in NYC where a mentalist was performing. The mentalist asked for audience members to shout out numbers one at a time so he could write them down on this huge gridded board. He then asked a boy to come up on stage and help him with the next part of the trick. The boy was 8 or 9 years old. The next part of the trick involved the boy to hold onto a special cassette tape. The mentalist then went back to the board, added up all the numbers and turned to the boy. He told the boy that he could now put the cassette tape into the player, turn it on and we could all listen to what the mentalist had already predicted all those random numbers to add up to-- except the boy had never seen a cassette player before. The boy wasn't embarrassed, acted like the cassette player was an antique from the 16th century, the audience laughed and all of us who knew what a cassette player was felt very old... Could the "dead tree" book go the way of the cassette player? Only time will tell...

It's Sunday! The week has passed like a flash, and I'm reeling from a busy week. It seems that my week has been filled with reading on my Kindle, and hearing other eReader news. So I thought I would devote this Sunday's Salon to take a look at the new pricing of eReaders and some new offerings that will surely make a choice of an electronic reader even more difficult. But choice is good, right?! As even more eReaders and Tablets flood the market, prices are coming down... at least for the eReaders themselves...


The Kindle 3 from Amazon, the latest generation of Kindle has been arriving in homes steadily since the end of August. It's lighter, smaller, has redesigned controls and the all new wonderful e-ink Pearl display. Feels great in my hands. I can read any PDF documents I send to it easily, I can navigate easier with the new navigation square, and it's just so nice. The screen is beautiful, sharp with more contrast. Kindle offers the ability for multiple family members under the same account to share books, and even read them at the same time. In fact most Kindle ebooks can be loaded on up to 6 devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC. After using this latest Kindle offering, my Kindle 2 feels big and heavy! Pricing on the new, latest generation Kindle's:

The Kobo eReader from Borders was really on the right track... Originally wanting a smaller, thinner eReader for ePub books made me look at the Kobo. The design of it is so nice- it's thin, simple controls, feels nice to hold with a rubbery like quilted back and could fit easily in one hand. The Kobo ebook store was easy to navigate, and I could read my Kobo ebooks from multiple platforms. Although customer service was a bit lacking at first. Kobo was really a separate company from Borders, so when I was having a software issue right out of the box, I had to navigate between Borders customer service and Kobo customer service in Canada. Very frustrating, but it eventually worked out. I was looking for a bare bones, nothing fancy ePub reader and I thought that this was the answer, BUT the text was not sharp on the screen. Or maybe just not sharp enough for my liking... Prices have slowly come down for the Kobo. And they needed to because for the price of the bare bones Kobo, you could just about buy yourself either a WiFi only Kindle or Nook. And WiFi is a nice feature. Price for the Kobo...

The Nook from Barnes & Noble has really come a long way. I had tried a Nook when they first came out and was having problems accessing my library, and it was slow navigating. I now chock that up to growing pains. I really wanted to love that Kobo, but after my DH got a Nook for reading ePub books I had to admit that the Nook's screen display was just so much nicer than the Kobo. I liked the design of the Kobo, but it all really comes down to the screen and being able to read, so back went the Kobo and the Nook became the eReader of choice for ePub books. The screen is so nice, with e-ink technology, sharp and variable font size. The design itself is nice and very comfortable to hold while reading. I am getting use to using the touch screen on the bottom to navigate, which at first seemed a bit awkward, but is slowly becoming second nature. It is also SO EASY to download ebooks from my library using Adobe Digital Editions! We opted for the WiFi only and it's perfect since we have WiFi at home. Barnes & Noble has also been running a promo for free B&N classics for the Nook this past month. A nice way to add some great ebooks to your Nook for free. And a great way to promote the Nook! Prices on the Nook...
Sony has always seemed to be the third wheel after the Kindle & Nook exploded on the scene. My first eReader was a Sony Pocket Reader and I loved it. I still like it. It's small, the screen is sharp, enough contrast, and easy to navigate controls. There is no WiFi or 3G, but it's very easy to plug it into the computer, access your Sony library and buy and download your books. At the time it was a novelty, there wasn't much of a selection of ebooks, and libraries hadn't really jumped on the ebook lending band wagon. Things have changed... Sony just announced the Sony Reader Pocket edition and the Sony Reader Touch edition are getting a revamp. A updated design, and some great new features. First they've stream lined both readers. They are thinner, the controls have been updated, no more wheel
on the bottom for navigation or buttons on the front side, now you have can turn your pages with forward/backward controls on the bottom OR swipe your finger across the page! E-Ink is still the technology of choice for these screens as well. Sony has also added the ability to highlight and scribble notes right on the screen with the help of a stylus! And you are suppose to be able to export those notes too! Adjustable font sizes and styles, along with the ability to read both ePub files and PDF's puts Sony back in the running. I do prefer the page turning forward/backward to be at the sides of the readers, but with touch technology, I'd probably be swiping anyway. Also, the screen on the Sony Pocket Edition is 5 inches, just slightly smaller than the other eReaders, but still a nice size to read and this also makes it one of the smallest eReaders. BUT the Sony Reader Touch Edition has the full 6 inch screen size found on the other eReaders. Sony has this great video on their site promoting their new readers, just make sure you're looking at under "overview" and click on the play button. Now pricing is a bit steep, but Sony has a great reputation, and products, and this might keep them in the game. Prices may drop too, and you can still get the previous generation Sony Pocket Reader at a great reduced price. The new Sony Readers will start shipping 9/16. Prices on the Sony Readers...
And another choice...
  • Aluratek's eLibre Pro sold by Borders... ePub & PDF reader w/ 5i nch screen. Even though this does not have e-Ink technology, I've heard that the screen is very just as nice, with good contrast and sharp fonts. NORMALLY priced at $119.99, it is ON SALE until 9/14 for $99.99! Hey, it also comes with a built in mp3 player!

We haven't even touched on Tablet Readers! Which included The Cruz Tablet at $199, the Pandigital Novel (looks like a tablet) at $249, the iPad starting at $499!

So what do you think about the future of "real" books? Brian Palmer wrote a post for Slate Magazine entitled Should You Ditch Your Books for an E-Reader? pointing out some of the environmental issues of Paper vs. Plastic reading, including you'll need to read 23 new books to break even environmentally with your Kindle. Of course, borrowing books from the library and sharing your own books is also great for the environment!

Next Sunday, back to Books with Buzz! And a sneak peek at this coming week.. Historical fiction fans be on the lookout for a giveaway of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel! Details on tuesday! And in the meantime, let me know what eReader you just love and why!

Happy Reading, digital or paper... Suzanne

15 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

I don't have an e-reader yet, but it looks as thought I might need to check into them. Thanks for the rundown on the different types. I have a friend who loves her Kindle, but she also has the iPad and enjoys it too. Too many choices. LOL

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Suzanne said...

Hi Mason Canyon!
eReaders are definitely becoming more common place now that the prices have come down. And now that libraries have ebooks for check out, an ereader that can download your library books is great- and no more late fees ever! I have an iPad too, which I really enjoy, but I thought I would be reading on it, but prefer to read on my Kindle and do other things on the iPad.

You know there are too many choices when CVS drug store advertises they are going to be selling a tablet reader! :-)

La Coccinelle said...

Since I live in Canada, e-readers still aren't a great option. We have to wait to get the same technology, and even then we don't get access to all the same books. (I've noticed this on Amazon... there are some Kindle books they just won't sell to me! But they'll sell me the paper version. Makes no sense.)

I might get an e-reader one day, but I personally like having a bookshelf full of books. Call me old fashioned.

Suzanne said...

Hi La Coccinelle!
You're right, even though Amazon Kindles tout global coverage, there are still spots that don't get the coverage. Lucky for all of us that the "global take-over" of eReaders hasn't happened yet! :-)

And I love seeing my bookshelves filled too! In fact I decorated my livingroom / diningroom with tall book towers!

Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I sold my Kindle when the iPad was released. I know read eBooks using the Kindle APP on my iPad which I love because of the backlight, and just sliding your finger to turn the page.

Suzanne said...

Hi Bibliophile By the Sea!
I LOVE my iPad too! And I thought I would use it for reading because of the backlight, but I find myself grabbing the Kindle to read on instead and using the iPad for all the other fun stuff! I guess it's just a little too heavy for me to enjoy reading with. Hey, I did buy a new holder from M-Edge for my iPad that makes it more convenient to prop it up and read, which may motivate me to use it more for that.

I'm glad there's another iPad lover out there though!

readerbuzz said...

What I love about the iPad is that all the other machines have apps for the iPad. An iPad can be all things!

My Salon:
www.readerbuzz.blogspot.com

I hope that you might stop by.

Suzanne said...

Hi readerbuzz,
And I have so many cross platform apps for my iPad! You are absolutely right about the iPad being a tool, because I regularly use it for what I use to grab the laptop for instead. The ONE thing I really wish the iPad had (besides Flash) is the ability to print. It really would practically replace my laptop if only I could directly through a usb port or wirelessly print.

gautami tripathy said...

Not really. India has the most
prolific readers in the world. And e-readers are yet to get popular here. Mainly, not many can afford it. If books are available for pittance on the pavements, why go for one?

Maybe e-readers are very popular in the handful of developed countries but the world is way too large!

gautami tripathy said...

Here is my Sunday Salon post!

Louise said...

I still haven't gotten around to get an e-reader. The number of books available here in Denmark is not overhvelming and there are still limits - we cannot buy e-books from Amazon.com like we cannot buy real books from Amazon.com (something to do with special taxes and such). But some day I will get a Kindle. I am pretty sure. I travel a lot, and it would be great to be able to bring more than 2 or 3 books at a time!

Suzanne said...

Hi Gautami Tripathy,
India also is blessed with wonderful writers as well as readers! I was exaggerating a bit on my "taking over the world" question, but it is interesting to note that the physical book is still the vehicle of choice for India. I do recall seeing that there was an amazing Tablet reader similar to the iPad that someone developed in India at an incredible low price.

Suzanne said...

Hi Louise,
Do you order your books for The Book Depository? I am amazed at the taxes, shipping costs etc. that Amazon charges (if they even ship to) certain countries. My friend from Africa finally got a Kindle and it was wonderful for her because she too was limited in the availability of books locally and it cost so much for shipping.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Thanks for the comparison!! I don't have an ereader and right now, I'm happy with my paper books!!

Suzanne said...

Hi Carrie!
I have an ereader, but I still love that feel of a "real" book in my hands.

There are so many new ereaders on the market and prices are coming down so fast, I thought it would be a good idea to update a list of some of the better offerings, because they are more affordable then ever now, and anyone on the fence might want to make the leap.

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