Why I’m not recommending an eBook reader this Christmas

This hol­i­day sea­son it seems that the eBook read­er is the must-have tech gift.

I can under­stand why:

  • Port­able — it’s easi­er to carry one eRead­er loaded with a few hun­dred (or thou­sand!) books
  • Search­able — some of the eRead­ers can  scan and search for text pas­sages, let­ting you book­mark them for future ref­er­ence
  • Annota­tions — in addi­tion to book­mark­ing your pages, some eRead­ers let you make notes ‘in the mar­gin’ so to speak. These can be saved out, expor­ted to oth­er docs for use

But even though eRead­ers are the rage — you may want to wait anoth­er few months before you invest;

  • Tech­no­logy is improv­ing — the nifty eInk pro­cess used to dis­play highly read­able text on an LCD-like screen is improv­ing. The refresh rate and pixel res­ol­u­tion is improv­ing, so the annoy­ing (to me, at least) flick­er when you flip pages will be reduced when eBooks adopt new­er eInk tech.
  • More options — Barnes & Nobel has integ­rated a col­our touch screen in their Nook eRead­er — in addi­tion to the eInk text dis­play.
  • More choice — Apple’s much pre­dicted (yet nev­er announced) Tab­let device could arrive in the first half of next year. If so, this’ll be the ‘must-have’ eRead­er. Not only an eBook read­er, the device will likely have all the func­tions of a cur­rent gen­er­a­tion iPod Touch. If you think of it as a port­able com­puter then you’ve got it. Though, many don’t like the back­lit dis­play of the iPhone and iPod touch for read­ing — too bright and hard on the eyes for long-term use — I’ve not noticed a prob­lem in long ses­sion’s I’ve had.
  • Cur­rent eRead­ers are not dis­coun­tedIn this Com­puter­World art­icle, it seems that eBook read­ers have the highest markup of all tech­no­logy avail­able this hol­i­day sea­son:
    E‑book read­ers aren’t really get­ting swept up in the cost cut­ting. While some stores are actu­ally pay­ing you to take free Black­Berry phones, for example, e‑book read­ers still cost hun­dreds of dol­lars.
  • Pro­pri­et­ary eBook stores — I’m not sure how this will shake down. Google, Sony, Amazon all have (or will soon have) online eBook shops, and there’s a host of inde­pend­ent ones too. The selec­tion of books avail­able at (or lim­ited to) cer­tain eBook stores may decide which unit you get…but it should­n’t. I’d look for some­thing that sup­ports the widely accep­ted  ePub stand­ard.

My recom­mend­a­tion — if you don’t already have one, wait a bit. You’ll get new fea­tures, per­haps a bet­ter price, per­haps a bet­ter unit, and more selec­tion to choose from.

Published by Brad Grier

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