Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The battle of the ebook readers

The Kindle, the Nook, the Sony or someone else... who will win?

The Kindle has been on the market for only 2 years and in that time it's become's fastest selling item. Kindle has just released their long awaited international version that works in 100 countries including Australia - but does it offer enough to entice us to buy into the Kindle craze? It offers some great features such as text to speech translation, over 280, 000 titles, native PDF viewing and free use of wikipedia. However, it is a proprietary device that only allows ebooks to be downloaded from amazon. I just don't think I can support such a device. Open access if the only way to go and so far I'm willing to hold out for a device that is multi-platform and non-proprietary.

The Nook by Barnes and Noble has just launched onto the scene with much panache and great reviews. They announced today that the Nook is the fastest selling Barnes and Noble item and they expect to take a large share of ebook reader sales away from amazon. The Nook is very attractive and has some fantastic features such as: full colour visual touchscreen interface with book covers, add a memory card for extra storage, lend an ebook to a friend and great accessories! Pretty cool, and if they had an international version I might have to bend my morals. However, the Nook can only download books from Barnes and Noble which means I can't buy one but I think many people will. I definitely think this device is a big step up from the Kindle!

Sony have developed a multi-platform ebook reader that can download books from a range of stores that Sony have agreemenst with including Borders and Waterstones. While this is not truly open it is a step in the right direction. The Sony reader also allows free content to be downloaded from sites like Project Gutenberg and they're partnering with some independent digital publishers which allows authors to upload original content directly. These are some mighty fine things they've achieved and if the Nook could do all that with the features it has in an international wireless version I would be saving my pennies for a purchase. In terms of features the Sony reader has less to offer than the Kindle and Nook but it does have a touchscreen and supports multiple file formats.


Apple's worst kept secret is the Apple Tablet that that may or may not eventuate to kill the Kindle and take over the ebook reader market. If and when it is released it will probably be available in Australia and worldwide. With Apple's reputation for design and function and their as yet non-affiliation with any one major bookseller the tablet could be just what I've been waiting for. It will also no doubt seemlessly sync and fit with all other apple products creatign a 'must have' feeling among mac/Apple lovers.

Green ebook readers

LG have announced the development of a solar powered ebook reader with the ability to be charged by battery or solar power.

What's next?

Vooks! The publishing phenomenon of the 21st century. Why publish plain old text based material when ebook readers allow you to view multi-media content alongside text. A video/text book. Imagine the possibilities! Interactive books with video demonstrations, screencasts and links to wikipedia for more info about facts, history, issues and more.

What it all means?

Once ebook readers have broken out of the US market and gone global, prices should fall, features should improve and sales will rise. The benefit of being able to have 1000's of books in one portable device is immense. Remember how hard it was to lug around all those textbooks? Or when you go travelling and can't help taking 10 books away for the weekend? No more excess baggage fees! Where I can imagine ebook readers being of greatest benefit is in education. Clients would be able to download all their textbooks from the library for a standard loan period like they do with books now. What a relief not to have to lug books around with you and be able to read your ebooks anywhere, anytime.

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