Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Quiet Revolution and The Quiet Death of the eReader

As much as I love and support the idea of eReaders and e-Ink I think this technology will be absorbed by a new breed of multifunctional machines.  eReaders per-say are dying before they even had a chance to be born.  Consumers want functionality and not a machine that looks like it was designed in the 1980’s and has the same limitations.  Frankly the mass market is just not prepared to adopt a machine which only reads books.  The iPad is proving that there is a market for ePub to sit within a multifunction machine.  Where this puts companies which have invested so much time and money into machines - which will only share a very small proportion of the mature market - I don’t know, but publishing MUST wake up to the reality that consumers will drive the market and not publishing's desire to implement technology it does not want or particularly understand.

Manufacturers such as Dell and Elonex and a host of others are already developing tablet machines as a low cost alternative to the iPad and recognise that consumers will be attracted to alternatives which retain elements of computing which they understand, they do not want a one stop machine, hell, they can buy a paperback if all they want to do is read.   The traditional eReading machine will never become a part of our culture the way an iPhone or iPad will.  Equally I don’t expect to see hoards of people populating coffee shops with computing tablets, the adoption of ereading machines will be a quiet revolution which takes places in the solace of our homes.


Cathy Macleod said...

No to what you write and yes-yes to a future for ereaders! The specialised device is perfect for folk like me who just want to read. My books download in an instant, I carry them around wherever, and the e-ink screen doesn't bounce reflections at me. In short, it's a "book bag" without bulk. I would never swap it for a portable computer like iPad.
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Mike Booth said...

I don't want to agree with you, but to a certain extent I do. What I miss in e-readers is hypertext. Links have become so ubiquitous and so important that I feel lost without them. And e-readers don't have linking capabilities. For that--today at least--you need a tablet computer. But I'm not sure I could read a whole book on an LCD screen. What's the solution, a two-screen e-reader?