With the buzz about the new Sony and Kindle electronic book readers, the business model of downloading an entire book in a minute is quickly catching on in the literary universe.
Comparable in many ways to how the Apple iPhone and Research in Motion Blackberry are competing to make mobile Internet browsing easy and affordable, the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle I and II gadgets are vying to “create the ultimate electronic book.” (Kharif) Questions to think about: Will content sites like iTunes be able to supply ebooks more easily and cheaply than Amazon & Sony? Will ebook technology converge into an all-in-one cell phone product?
The Amazon Kindle I & II each include a built-in keyboard and Wi-Fi functionality. One drawback to this Wi-Fi capability is the tendency to want to search the web as opposed to concentrating just on reading the book. Here is a quick review from web usability guru, Jacob Nielsen: “Amazon's new e-book reader offers print-level readability and shines for reading fiction, but it has awkward interaction design and poor support for non-linear content.”
The Sony PRS 700BC Reader, starting at $300, features a touch screen display, a fast processor, and a built-in light, but it does not give a Wi-Fi option just yet. The Sony Reader can hold up to 300 titles with two USB ports for stored memory. To see Sony’s latest ebook inventory, take some time and browse a bit in their online store.
The Plastic Logic e-reader, not yet publicly available, is a ‘bendy’ product made out of electronic films & sheets. The product, as Publisher’s Weekly recently announced, “is about the size and weight of a glossy magazine, has a touch screen and displays eight shades of gray. The device will be on the market in 2010.” (Teicher)
As an historical note: the Rocket eBook reader was one of the first ebook readers to catch on in the market (at least it did for little while). When it first debuted in 1999, reviewers just had no real vocabulary to describe the technology. A search in the Library database “Academic Search Premier” brought up an interesting article from Library Journal describing the Rocket eBook reader in terms such as “book-reading appliance” and “digital book”. It’s really anybody’s guess what the Plastic Logic e-reader will eventually be marketed as.
Kharif, O. (2009, January 19). Shakespeare's On the (Cell) Phone. Business Week, Retrieved March 9, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
Lynch, C. (1999, October 16). Electrifying the Book. Library Journal, 124(17), 3. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
Nielsen, Jacob. “Alertbox” March 9, 2009.
Teicher, Craig Morgan. "Tools of Change 2009: Redefining the Book." Publishers Weekly 256.7 (16 Feb. 2009): 15-15. Retrieved March 25, 2009, from Business Source Premier database.