E-readers are a success because e-books have boomed. The official statistics of the UK publishers association show that in 2011 value sales of e-books have grown by 366%, while their paper cousins have lost 7% (source: the Guardian). Granted that in the UK e-books still have a small share (6%) of overall consumer sales but also that the statistic doesn’t include e-books which are available for free (e.g. all those whose copyrights have expired and not been renewed), the trend is unmistakable.
Equally unmistakable is the growth of e-reader sales in the last two years, which have been in excess of 15 million units worldwide (source: emarketer.com).
The original e-reader was the Amazon Kindle device, which has been joined by, among others, the Barnes&Noble Nook, the Kobo, Sony’s Reader, the Pocketbook.
They are basically all very similar to a small tablet pc. The main differences are in the screen, which isn’t backlit as in most tablets, and in the operating system, which is generally lighter on an e-reader, not allowing web browsing, for example.
An e-reader screen uses what is known as an electronic paper display, and this has both advantages and disadvantages versus a tablet’s or a lap-top’s back-lit screen. It can be viewed and read easily in direct sunlight, try doing that with an ordinary pc, but it suffers in low light conditions. It behaves in other words just like paper, which you can’t read in the dark, no matter how bright the print.
Or at least it did, until Barnes&Noble’s Nook saw the…light and included a reading light in their brand new e-reader, the Nook Glowlight. So it’s one up on them against the Amazon Kindle, until now the undisputed leader of the e-readers market? Or maybe not, because Kindle has immediately responded with the Paperlight version, both basic lighted versions (Kindle and Nook) retailing for about £110.
The Nook does sport a smaller memory than the Kindle Touch, 1gb vs 3gb but as this still allows the user to hold around 1000 books in the memory (which is also expandable, however) it probably won’t be a major issue. And the Nook supports ePub book formats, meaning the user isn’t tied solely to Amazon’s like in the Kindle. On the other hand, the top version of the Kindle Paperwhite, which retails at £169, has 3G as well as wi-fi connectivity, and this the Nook doesn’t do. What the Nook does is feature a cheap version at £ 79, minus the reading light and minus a browser.
Amidst all this, there also is the ongoing tablet vs e-reader battle. Any tablet is also an e-reader but the performances and prices are wholly different. You can regard a tablet as a faster, more powerful version of an e-reader: it browses the web, it a plays multimedia content and has brilliant graphics…but it also costs (e.g. the iPad 5) £ 381.
So the battle is on, between tablets, mini tablets and e-readers to capture a huge share of the market for reading books (and more) worldwide.
This guest post is written by Mark Jenkins and he works at CouponAudit as a writer, where thousands of valid and working online coupons for different stores are available including but not limited to diapers.com coupon code and various other online stores.
Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net