I've been covering ebook readers (or ereaders) since the 1980s. I'm not convinced that ereaders are the future of ebooks, but reading materials are certainly moving to digital formats.
Here at the University of Minnesota, it was recently announced that our College of Education and Human Development began to provide iPads to all freshmen in the largest research-based iPad pilot project in the U.S. which began this Fall.
The Nook, the most recent ereader to be offered, provides some key improvements to the format and should be an interesting consumer electronics product this holiday season. The new model, boasting full-color screen was announced at a press conference in NYC. New features include web surfing - which would seem to bring this new model more into line with tablet computers. More information is @ Barnes & Noble website.
As the holiday season begins to heat up, we should be seeing greater price ranging of the devices - from the black/white ereading only models nearing $100 to more fully-loaded models at higher price ranges and offering features that bring them into the tablet category.
In the past two years, ebook readers have become:
• smaller, sleeker, lighter weight - while maintaining their 5 or 6 inch screens
• with improved screen contrast and better control of fonts to meet individual user needs
• faster navigation, screen refreshes, page turning and other functioning
• pricing continues to decline despite product enhancements
• enhanced abilities to read a wider range of information formats and content sources
• more flexible options beyond the 'book', such as Internet browsers, abilities to mount apps or use devices for movies or audio
• Linux has become the most popular operating system supporting dedicated ereaders today, with Microsoft Windows coming in a far second
• EPUB, PDF, HTML and TXT are most common - allowing for adding documents, downloading free ebooks and other applications
• integrating some type of dictionary function.
• some directory scheme for organizing burgeoning ebook collections
• 1GB storage is common with some allowing for as much as 4GB of storage
• touchscreen systems and/or some type of keyboard for input
• web browsing is developing as a standard feature
More publishers are entering the arena - and magazine/newspapers are developing pricing schemes - so that content will be less of an issue.
I've written about ebooks and ebook readers for many years - and have one scheduled to assess the market after the coming holiday buying season as well. Here are some of my published articles on ebooks - and I'd be interested in hearing your opinions and ideas on the products as well!
"Kindle DX: Amazon's Latest Ebook Reader," Information Today 26(9): 26-7, October, 2009.
Short Kindle Review.pdf
"The Ebook Reader Is Not the Future of Ebooks," SEARCHER 16(8): 26-40, September 2008.
Ebook Readers Not Future of Ebooks.final article.pdf