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Will Ebook Readers threaten the traditional book?

With the fairly recent launch of Amazons Kindle and the imminent arival of Sony's Third Generation PRS-700, there are some big players backing the e-book market so is time to be concerned about the future of the traditional book format?

There are quite a number of e-book readers on the market today, but the big two that stand out have to be Sony's and Amazon's.

Sony PRS 700

Lets start with Sony's offering, the new
Sony PRS-700, which is due for launch soon will be a 6 inch touch screen based device with the ability to annote documents via the use of a stylus and an on screen keyboard using the existing e-ink technology but attempting to overcome the issue of pooor display in low light conditions by the addition of intergrated LED lighting around the edge of the screen. The standard model will be able to store up to 350 books in its onboard memory with flash card memory slots for additional storage.

The software has been upgraded, e-book library 2.5 has been designed to make it easy to read PDF, MS Word and other formats but is still going to come bundled with Sony's BBeB package to purchase books from their online store, which has around 50000 ebooks in stock.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon's Kindle e-book reader uses a different technology that provides a remarkably clear and sharp display. In addition the Kindle has Wifi connectivity meaning you can download e-books from any wifi enabled device. It has a hardware QWERTY keyboard an the bottom of the reader, select wheel and next/prev/back buttons with an LCD side scroller.

The Kindle can hold over 200 e-books in its onboard memory with an SD memory card slot for extra storage. Amazon's e-book store has around 180000 e-books with very competative pricing.

Ok so are we wanting one yet?, well these reviewed are american versions however if you are in the UK, you will be hard pressed to find them yet. When I find a UK release Date for either I will let you know.

The Pros

  • Storage, you can carry hundreds of books around with you all at the same time!
  • Environment, No paper, less environmental impact.
  • Editable, you can use the reader to store your own documents and edit them.


Cons

  • Expense, the readers in america can cost $400 upwards.
  • DRM restricted?, with any electronic media there are DRM laws so in theory it would be questionable if you could store any copies anywhere else, meaning if your reader breaks you have lost all your books!
  • Readability, no matter how good electronic paper gets it will never replace the tactile quality of the printed paper and the paper novel.


My Conclusions

There is a definite convienience factor of carrying around potentially hundreds of books I can't deny that the lure is there, however in my opinion you will never be able to replicate the experience of reading a real book. The tactile sensations, the real experience of sitting and reading a physical book and having them displayed on your shelf to me is all part of the experience, no matter how much I enjoy technology, there will never be a replacement to the pleasure of buying a book, taking it home and reading it.