Portable e-book reader devices, like the Amazon Kindle, the Sony PRS-550 and the iRex to name but a few, have been around in some shape or form for at least ten years now. The first dedicated reader is generally agreed to have been the Franklin eBookMan, which was released in 1999.
Since then there have been a number of other reader devices released onto the market -with varying degrees of success and acceptance by the reading public. It's probably fair to say that the Amazon Kindle series of readers is currently the best known and is the market leader. The Sony PRS is the strongest competitor at this time, but other manufacturers, such as Plastic Logic, Samsung and Apple, have their own readers in development for release in the last half of 2009 or early 2010.
So having been around for a decade, why is it that e-book readers seem to have really taken off in the first 6 months of 2009? The Amazon Kindle 2 and the large format Kindle DX were launched in the first six months of the year - February and June respectively. This would certainly have contributed to the excitement, as would the growing number of competing readers about to be launched.
Another very important factor is that electronic textbooks are being introduced for some scholars as early as August 2009 and a lot of colleges and universities have trial programs in place to make further education textbooks available electronically. The normally staid world of academic publishing seems to have been a major influencing factor by creating a sense of immediacy. The August start date seems to underline that this is not some future science fiction vision of the future, but something which is happening right now.
So why all the fuss? Here's a list of ten things that you might be interested to know about portable electronic book readers:
- Carry an entire library of books around with you in a device that is, roughly, the size of a paperback book (Kindle 2) or a hardback book (Kindle DX).
- Choose the font size best suited for you to make your books easier to read. Very useful if you forget your reading glasses.
- Pick a reader which uses e-Ink technology and you won't suffer from screen flicker or glare. E-Ink displays produce significantly less eye strain when compared to reading books or documents on a standard computer monitor or notebook display.
- Do your bit for the environment. Save on paper and ink by choosing electronic books rather than traditional printed material.
- Save money. The cost savings on printing and distribution costs available to publishers can be passed on to book buyers. You can even get free public domain books from Google and free Kindle books direct from Amazon. You could quickly make the cost of your e-book reader device back.
- Save on space. If you read a lot, your home can soon become cluttered with books. Storing them electronically means that that problem will disappear.
- Make effective use of your time. You can download digital books very quickly - less than sixty seconds is claimed for the Amazon Kindle 4 for example. No time spent waiting for postal deliveries and no treks into the shopping centre only to find that the book you wanted just got sold.
- Read books in a number of different languages at the touch of a button.
- Try before you buy. You can often find the first chapter of books available as a free download on a fair number of bookseller's websites.
- Listen to music. Many readers have the capability to let you play backing music whilst you're reading.
The actual perceived benefits will vary from user to user and will probably depend on how many books are read per annum. However, for keen readers, it does look as if an e-book reader could offer a number of different advantages which may more than justify the initial purchase price.
Amazon Price: $119.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 27, 2013)