This is a nice summary of the state of e-readers according to those who like things old fashioned, and those who like things technologically advanced.
I recently posted about how Kobo was going to be staying in business even after Borders went bankrupt (this was a concern because Border was one of Kobo’s major suppliers).
Now, I saw a short article saying that Kobo actually saw an increase in traffic of 30% after Borders filed for bankruptcy, and what they’re calling a “huge sales spike” in the following weeks.
This does not necessarily mean that suddenly all of Border’s book customers decided to start using ebooks. My guess is that it was a combination of these types of things:
– People who hadn’t heard about ebooks (or much about them) suddenly were reading news about Kobo, and decided to check it out.
– People who were on the fence about buying ebooks were suddenly reading news about Kobo, and decided to take the plunge and buy one.
– There was just generally a lot more media attention for Kobo than usual.
– Maybe some people thought they’d find deals on ebooks if Kobo was actually having a hard time and in danger of going under.
The big question will be whether their sales stay elevated over time. That is, of course, the big question about ebook sales in general … will they outpace paper books, like Amazon keeps reporting that the Kindle does? Will the technology improve enough that ebooks become more mainstream than they have so far? I think they will, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Author: Jared Scott
eReaders and tablet computers are some of the latest technology in personal electronics. These two types of devices are very different in most ways, but they share the capability of acting as eReaders, which has many folks wondering if they should get a dedicated ebook reader device, or a more full-featured tablet computer. This article will provide some objective information on the differences between the two.
First, it’s important to define which devices qualify as tablets or eReaders. Anybody who is new to this technology and shopping for a tablet or eReader could quickly become confused about this terminology.
Tablets include the following: Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Motorola Xoom. These are the most current tablet computers available.
eReaders include the following: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo eReader, BeBook Neo, Sony Reader, and many others.
The functionality capability between tablets and eReaders is the main difference between these two types of devices.
eReaders are devices that are dedicated to ebook reading. They were designed primarily for that function. With an eReader, you can purchase ebooks, download them to the device, and read them. Some eReaders have limited access to the internet through a basic browser. Some can function as MP3 players, which means that you can listen to your music or audiobooks on them.
Tablets can read ebooks, but they can do a lot more than that. The iPad can use all of the same apps that are available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Both the Samsung Galaxy and Motorola Xoom run on the Android OS, and they can use any of the apps that are available in the Android Market. Depending on the specific model, tablets can record HD video and take high-quality photos. Tablets can display and play any type of media, including music, movies, and games. They have fully functioning web browsers and email capabilities. You can also manage your calendar and contacts just like on a smartphone.
Tablet computers are currently priced at around $500-$700. eReaders cost about $130-$300.
The type of screen that a tablet computer has is very different than the type of screen that most eReaders have.
Tablets have LCD screens, just like any touch-screen phone or laptop. They are capable of displaying video and animations. LCD screens are back-lit, meaning that they emit their own light. These screens are glossy, which means that they can show reflections and glare in sunlight.
eReaders have e-Ink (electronic ink) screens. These screens are matte instead of glossy, which means that they do not show reflections or glare even in bright, direct sunlight. This means that you can use them to read outside or directly by an indoor lamp. They do not emit their own light, so the effect of reading on these screens is very similar to reading from paper. e-Ink is not capable of displaying media like color photos or video. It is made to render text similarly to print on paper.
The battery life of eReaders is significantly better than that of tablet computers. eReaders can typically last for a month of regular use without having to be charged. Tablets can run out of battery life within a few hours. This is mostly due to the screen type and the fact that they do a lot more internal processing than eReaders.
Size and Weight
All eReaders generally weigh about the same as a standard paperback book, which is around 8 ounces. Tablets weigh approximately three times that much, depending on the model. If your primary use for the device will be reading, then this weight could be significant when holding up the device for extended periods of time.
If ebook reading will be a main function of the device for you, then it is important to learn how and where you will be able to get ebooks for the device. For example, a tablet that runs on the Android OS will require an Android-compatible ebook reading app. The ebooks purchased for the device must be compatible with that app. Another example: Kindle users are very restricted in their ebook shopping choices because the Kindle can (generally) only read Kindle ebooks purchased at Amazon.com. On the other hand, other eReaders like the BeBook or Nook are compatible with Adobe PDF or EPUB ebooks that are sold at a variety of different ebook stores. The iPad has the native iBooks application, and can also read ebooks with a variety of other ebook apps.
The most important point to take away from this is that tablets can do a lot more more than read ebooks, however, that functionality comes with a much higher price tag. When deciding on which type of device to buy, consider whether or not you would use all of the features offered by a tablet and whether the high price would be justified for your personal situation.
About the Author
Jared Scott has over ten years experience working in the eBook and e-Reader industry. His eBook Reader Software blog is updated regularly with informational posts relating to eBook software. Current top recommendation: Android ebooks for the new Android OS tablets like the Xoom or Galaxy Tab.
My comments about this article:
I was glad to find this article online to post here. The author has provided a great set of basic information that compares tablet and e-reader devices. Some of it is pretty obvious, like the fact that tablets can do much more an e-readers, but some people might not know about the differences in screen type or battery life. With tablets and e-readers becoming more popular lately, it’s good for consumers to have enough information to make a good decision about which type of device to buy.
Ever since the Nook Color came out, I’ve been seeing articles about how people are managing to hack it up and use it as more of an Android tablet than an e-reader. This is (in a nutshell) possible because the Nook Color sort of is a tablet, rather than an e-reader. My colleague over at eBook Reader Software put up a post about that a while back with a bit more information.
I just read this article that reports that someone has figured out a hack for the Nook Color that lets them make phone calls over Bluetooth and Android Skype (or something).
The latest hack comes from CM7 Developer “Kmoobs” who managed to bring bluetooth capability to it through CM7 Nightly for Encore which takes advantage of the hidden bluetooth capability of the NookColor’s WiFi chip. The capability is turned off in the software and CM7 Nightly for Encore re-enables it.
This makes me wonder why there even is a “hidden bluetooth capability”. Is that something that’s always available in WiFi chips, or is it specially hidden in the Nook Color for some reason?
An in addition to having Bluetooth capability, Kmoobs says that he can make phone calls, presumably through something like the Android Skype App and a bluetooth headset.
My reaction to this is basically: silly hackers. Why would you want to make phone calls on a Nook Color? They just do these things to see if they can.
A very cool feature which opens tremendous possibilities for those on a budget who want an Android Tablet that they can play around with. This comes on top of users overclocking their NOOKcolor and getting up to nearly 1Ghz in processing speed and allowing it to become a fully functional Android Tablet.
This kind of thing isn’t much of a reality for most users. Obviously I don’t have any percentages, but I am very sure that the people who know how to mess with a Nook Color enough to get it to make phone calls are in the minority. For those people this is a fun project, but for the average user, it will make much more sense to actually buy an Android tablet. Still, it’s fun to hear about the inventive stuff that people have figured out how to do with tablets and other electronics.
Really interesting spin on the usual “software pirating is stealing authors’/musicians’ money” type of article: Top 10 Pirated eBooks at the Pirate Bay. The authors of the article are commenting on a piece written by journalist David Carnoy, about how there is an increase in the number of kindle ebooks being pirated.
They went on to compile a list of the top 10 pirated ebooks at the Pirate Bay (a popular file sharing website):
1. 1000 Photoshop Tips and Tricks
2. Advanced Sex: Explicit Positions for Explosive Lovemaking
3. What Did We Use Before Toilet Paper?: 200 Curious Questions
4. Photoshop CS5 All-in-One For Dummies
5. What Rich People Know & Desperately Want to Keep a Secret-
6. 101 Short Cuts in Maths Any One Can Do
7. Touch Me There!: A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots
8. How to Blow Her Mind in Bed
9. 1001 Math Problems
10. How To Make People Like You In 90 Seconds Or Less
The comments in the article are the usual bickering about how pirating is good and/or bad, but this comment by “angel strand” is funny: “It’s all so human…how do I make love, get rich and fix those stupid holiday photos…as well as help my kid with homework.”
This topic makes me wonder what kind of further damage is done by pointing out that you can pirate ebooks. There are probably a lot of people saying, “Huh, I never thought of that!” and running off to steal some ebooks for themselves.
It is a serious situation, though. The more that content goes digital, the more it will be protected by DRM, which everyone hates. But the DRM will be necessary as long as people will illegally share digital files, and I don’t know how that will ever stop since it’s so easy without DRM. Even with DRM, there are plenty of kids who figure out how to get around it. It’s a rough situation, all in all. It’s been going on for at least a decade without really any new solutions.
The major bookstore chain Borders has filed for bankruptcy, and is closing stores all over the country. This is interesting because I was just reading an article (which I can’t find a link to now) that was talking about how bookstores could be facing a lot of trouble now that it’s so easy to buy books online. And not necessarily ebooks, either — paper books can be purchased online too, obviously, and when you can get free shipping and not have to drive to a store, it’s often a nice option. Of course, I don’t know what exactly is causing Borders to go bankrupt, or whether online sales has anything at all to do with it.
Some good news is that Kobo seems to be doing alright, and should be sticking around. I found some info in this article, and there are others. Kobo eReaders could be purchased at Borders stores, and Borders was their main supplier. Kobo says that they have other suppliers and are seeking more, and that you shouldn’t worry if you own a Kobo eReader. You should start to buy your ebooks directly from their website at kobobooks.com or other ebook stores that sell PDF or ePub ebooks.
And again, it’s another bit of news that shows that ebooks are now selling better than paper books, at least in some cases. It reminds me of all the trouble created for the US Post Office now that so many documents are sent by email instead of postal mail. It’s just the way things are now. It doesn’t mean that all bookstores will go out of business, but it does mean that they will need to develop their businesses to include electronic books if they want to remain competitive.
I just read that the New York Times is going to start publishing a bestseller list for ebooks. The original announcement, was from November, and I read on another article that it will begin this Sunday, 2/13.
“In an acknowledgment of the growing sales and influence of digital publishing, The New York Times said on Wednesday that it would publish e-book best-seller lists in fiction and nonfiction beginning early next year. The lists will be compiled from weekly data from publishers, chain bookstores, independent booksellers and online retailers, among other sources.”
This makes me really feel like ebooks have arrived. They’ve been around for 10-15 years, in one form or another, but only over the past couple years have they really gained momentum.
“Several major publishers said that e-books had climbed to about 10 percent of their total trade sales. Some publishing experts have predicted that they will rise to 25 percent in the next two to three years.”
25% of all sales is pretty huge for digital copies of books. It shows how digital everything has become. I think that the popularity of ebooks will only grow and grow, especially as the technology of e-readers and tablets gets better and better. Personally, I’ve gotten to a point where I hate having paper copies of anything. They clutter up my desk and file boxes, and it just makes so much more sense to have it all stored digitally. Books are no different. You could even say they are worse since they’re so heavy and take up literally bookshelves full of space.
“To give the fullest and most accurate possible snapshot of what books are being read at a given moment you have to include as many different formats as possible, and e-books have really grown, there’s no question about it,” said Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review. The new listings, he added, give readers “the fullest picture we can give them about how a book is doing week to week.”
Makes sense to me. You can’t leave out the digital versions if you want an accurate picture of how many books have sold, especially when they will account for up to 25% of all sales. It’s a good idea for them to start keeping accurate records now, before it gets to that point.
This is good news all around!
I read this article yesterday. A bookstore called Microcosm in Portland, Oregon was taking used Kindles for people and offering them a similar amount of value in printed books.
The idea, said Rio Sasari, manager of Microcosm’s Portland store, was born out of the realization that, for many, devices like the Kindle are good in theory, but not so much in execution. This is especially true for people who receive them as gifts. “It sounds like a good Christmas gift, because it’s something new and trendy,” Sasar said.
This is interesting because, working with ebooks myself, I know that there are people who try to use ebooks, who aren’t really all that familiar with electronics in general. This makes the whole experience really difficult for them. Giving a Kindle to a book-lover really isn’t so great an idea if that book-lover is a technophobe. Now, that doesn’t mean that all Kindles or ebook readers are poor in execution.
“There’s is a little bit of pressure to buy these devices,” Sasari said. “It’s pushed very well, and people feel the need to conform a bit and keep up with trends. There are people that feel that pressure, but they just want books,” he said.
This seems like a stretch to me. I wonder if people really do that. I don’t know if Amazon’s marketing is so good that a person would buy a Kindle when all they really wanted was some old fashioned paperbacks. Even if that is the case, it’s really not that useful in the long run, because you end up with a customer who doesn’t know how to use the device and becomes a drain on your support personell.
“We don’t have anything against the technology,” he said. “We’re just trying to make a positive statement for books. We’re just pushing books as something cool, hip and new.”
That is a losing battle, if you ask me. Books are not new by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m not saying this is a bad program. I just think that the reasons set forth are a little shaky. Actually I think it’s a nice idea for people who have Kindles and no longer want them. But the article doesn’t say what this bookstore is going to do with the Kindles that are turned in. Sell them as used? Recycle them? Chop them up into pieces?
This is a follow-up to my last post about the Kindle. I wrote about how the Kindle is not set up to read library books. This is, basically, because libraries aren’t able to offer the Kindle AZW ebook format, just like how no other ebook stores can offer that format.
A commenter left a note about how the Kindle can “lend” books. This is a completely different thing. Amazon will let you lend certain books to a friend for a short amount of time, with some restrictions. I looked up the details on Amazon and just a quick read of the page told me:
– Not all Kindle ebooks can be lended. It depends on whether the publisher of the book has decided to allow it.
– Kindle ebooks can only be lended for up to 14 days.
– The lender (the person who is lending the ebook to someone else) can’t read the ebook while it is being lended
I actually find this whole thing to be a little funny. I’ve been working with ebooks for a long time, and one of the main gripes that people have about ebooks goes something like this: “But how am I supposed to give away an ebook to someone else when I’m done with it?! I can do that with paper books, you know! And now I can’t do that with ebooks??!!” Now Amazon and Barnes & Noble are caving to this complaint (the Nook has a lending function as well).
Let me make a few different comments about this …
1. Yeah, everyone is aware that you can give a paper book to someone else. Don’t worry — we live on Earth, too.
2. eBooks are not paper books. They’re just not. eBooks are software, so don’t expect them to behave like physical objects.
3. Is it really so important that you give a book to a friend? Is that something you’re thinking about when you buy a paper book? “After I’m done with this, I’ll give it to Janet! If I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t buy this book at all!”
My main point is that ebooks are software. They are digital. They exist in the nether regions of the internet and hard drives. They aren’t supposed to behave exactly like paper books.
All of that being said … sure, it’s great that you can lend a Kindle ebook to someone else for 14 days, I guess. But it’s really no sweat off my back if Janet isn’t able to read the Kindle eBook that I bought. She can buy her own.
No, the issue here is really about money. You want to be able to re-sell your ebooks like you can your paper books, and you want to save your buddy money by giving him or her your ebook. Well, my response to that is: get over it. Book publishers don’t want to go out of business because you illegally gave away digital content. That might be annoying for you, but if you want ebooks and music to be available digitally, it is the reality of the situation.