Although sales of e-readers are going gangbusters, some industry pundits are already speculating that the iPad and other tablets could kill off e-readers entirely. Tablets incorporate e-reader functionality and connection to electronic bookstores, but they're multipurpose devices that can also be used as computers, personal multimedia centers, Web browsers, communications devices or anything else that tens of thousands of apps can open up. However, other experts say that those who do a lot of reading will stick with the more lightweight, easier-on-the-eyes e-readers.
And printed books? Back in the early 1990s, the first crop of digital cameras debuted to an indifferent public, who were quite unimpressed with their high prices, terrible performance and awful image quality. These days, however, digital cameras are ubiquitous and film cameras virtually extinct. Similarly, most publishing experts predict that paper-and-ink books -- as well as physical newspapers and magazines -- will ultimately go the way of the dodo.
But along the way to book extinction, there will be a continual shakeout in the e-reader industry as overpriced, poorly designed or underpowered devices succumb to buyer apathy, while better, less expensive e-readers continue to flood the market.
It's an exciting era for the publishing industry, and a great time for readers everywhere.
Including privately branded devices and Asian knockoffs, there are probably more than a score of e-readers currently on the American market. For this roundup, we focused on currently shipping, readily available models, most by mainstream vendors. These include the Alex, jetBook Lite, iPad, Kindle, Kobo, Libre eBook Reader Pro, Nook and Pandigital Novel.
Sony's latest e-readers
Sony has recently introduced new versions of its three e-readers: the Reader Pocket Edition, Reader Touch Edition and Reader Daily Edition. While the upcoming models weren't available in time for this article, Computerworld did get a first look at the devices -- check out the article: Sony introduces three light, bright touch-screen e-readers