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REVIEW: Ebook Readers 2007: Mid Term Report

KindleLast December I blogged about the ebook readers that were to hit the market in 2007. Unfortunately, none have made their appearance although word is that a few are still slotted for an imminent debut. The buzz still points toward the Amazon Kindle as being the most widely anticipated. Despite the talk at the London Book Fair of an announcement to be made about the Kindle in June at the New York Book Expo America (BEA), there was strangely no buzz at all about the Kindle. Publishers Marketplace reported that Amazon was showing Kindle optimized content in special web feeds. More interesting, it noted that pricing showed up

Nearly all of the hardcovers and recent releases we found have “list prices” of $16.99 or thereabouts — already lower than the hardcover prices — and the site further “discounts” from a variety of list prices to an apparent standardized selling price of $9.99. This will naturally make people wonder if Amazon is trying to establish that price point as a common listing, as the closest they could come to a system akin to iTunes dollar-per-song model.

NuutNUUT eBook Reader was recently released in South Korea and the first of the eink readers to offer the new Vizplex Imaging Film at $300.00. The claim is that with this new technology, the refresh rate (the time it takes to “turn” the page electronically) is doubled and has a 20 percent increase in brightness. For indoor reading under less than perfect ambient lighting environments, the increase in brightness is quite meaningful.

bookeen
Bookeen,
the manufacturers of Cybook, announced its upcoming eink device. This device is rumored to have a price tag of $350.00 and will read Open eBook, PDF, HTML, RTF and, likely, Mobipocket. While Bookeen isn’t as well known as Amazon, if it reads Mobipocket books, who would want to buy the horribly designed Kindle? Not I. Some of the Mobile Read aficianados believe its likely that Cybook will sport the Vixplex Imaging Film as well.

sideshowMicrosoft SideShow devices are the budget answer to PDA. This particular Vista compatible handheld device will feature a 5″ rectangular screen and a slide out qwerty keyboard with a price tag of $150. This same company is developing a “Home E-Reader” which will have a “large, high-contrast, low power e-Paper display” and “the stylus capability enables the user to make notes that can be easily transferred to a PC.” The problem is that these Vista Sideshow devices are essentially slave screens that run off a Vista computer. It seems that it is designed for home use only so long as you are within the range of the master computer. (like 100 feet). I hardly see how this is a good idea. Why not just read off the laptop?

I would think that the Bookeen device is the best bet and its coming out soon. Anyone want a slightly used Sony Reader?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 05:25:54

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh Nooooooooooo, please don’t say any one want a slightly used Sony Reader, after reading your post a couple of weeks ago (June 3rd) I went and ordered one and received it this week in the mail. Do you know when this will be available here? Quick I still have 25 days to return my Sony reader.

    There are still some books that I want, like Linda Howard’s MacKenzie’s bundle that is available only in Secure Mobipocket/Microsoft Reader/Adobe Reader 7/Palm Reader format.

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  2. Sarah McCarty
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 05:44:20

    Oooh! Th Bookeen device looks good. *forcing self to be patient* I hope it comes out soon.

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  3. Maya Reynolds
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 06:37:16

    Like you, I’ve been following the rumors of the Kindle for a long time. I first blogged about it last September.

    Amazon has been playing its cards remarkably close to the vest. My guess is that they plan a preemptive strike with the announcement of the Kindle’s release intended to move the company into the dominant position in the e-reader market.

    Two things about the Kindle–one fact and the other rumor.

    First, the fact. The Kindle will have Amazon’s proprietary Mobipocket software, which is a universal reader for PDAs and Smartphones. Six months ago, Amazon responded to a question about whether they would support other formats on their website by saying: “We are working on removing Microsoft and Adobe format e-books from Amazon.com, and soon they will no longer available for purchase.”

    That is a HUGE step, and I think tells you something about how strong Amazon’s commitment to the Kindle is.

    Second, pricing rumors range from $50 to $400.

    As hard as the $50 rumor is to accept, if it’s true, it would mean that Amazon would be eating the bulk of the cost of the e-reader in order to encourage lots of early sales to help them grab hold of the e-reader market. Sony’s Reader has not captured that market the way the company anticipated.

    I subscribe to Publishers Market (PM) and actually saw the live link on Amazon.com for a Kindle Edition of the Wall Street Journal before Amazon pulled it down when PM asked about it. According to PM, they found data feeds for data feeds the NY Times, the Washington Post, Le Monde, the Independent, Forbes, Newsweek, Time, the Boston Globe, FAZ, and the Denver Post.

    I’d be very interested in an e-reader that would allow me access to whatever magazine or newspaper I was interested in reading.

    No, I won’t be buying an e-reader until the Kindle debuts. With Amazon.com’s weight behind it, it has the potential to be the iPod of the e-reading devices.

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  4. sherry thomas
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 09:36:44

    I’m up for a slightly used, or even a lot used Sony reader. Then maybe a lil ole dinosaur like me can finally embrace the marvel of e-books.

    More seriously, though, those readers are expensive. But then again, I don’t have an ipod. And I can’t figure out which is the business end of my husband’s blackberry, which I’ve called raspberry at times.

    I’m not only an Ellora’s Cave virgin, I’m an EC virgin in her 30s who can’t find her hooha with a compass, a flashlight, and a copy of The Joy of Sex.

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  5. Nicole
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 10:50:25

    Ah Jane, you’re killing me. Now do I wait and see about the new Kindle and Bookeen and cough up a few hundred dollars, or do I get a Sony Reader for free and figure that since I’m not spending any money on it, that forgives it for not being the latest and greatest? Decisions, decisions. And you are NOT helping.

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  6. Jane
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 10:56:37

    If the Sony Reader is free, I guess I would go with the Sony Reader.

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  7. Chantal
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 11:27:21

    I love my Ebookwise. I have no idea how I ever got along without it.

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  8. LindaB
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 14:17:40

    I’m with you Chantal. I also love my Ebookwise. It’s very reasonably priced and with the Librarian can translate HTML to its format slick as you please.

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  9. bam
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 14:57:27

    The Bookeen is hella sexy. I want one.

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  10. LinM
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 15:14:14

    Like Danielle, I had Sony Reader dreams dancing in my head after Jane’s column on June 3rd. But the Sony is not quite right and I’m still reasonably happy with my Palm. I suspect that the Kindle may have a big impact on the ebook/e-reader market if any of the pricing rumours for either the books or the reader prove to be true. I have my doubts about Sony’s longevity in the ebook/eReader market if they have real competition.

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  11. Maya Reynolds
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 15:28:24

    Like Lin, I’ve been watching and waiting. I have my laptop and my Palm in the interim.

    It sounds crazy that Amazon would take that much of a price hit on the Kindle, but they’ve done it before.

    The AP reported that, at the company’s annual meeting Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about his “customer-centric” approach. He explained that despite the more than a million pre-orders Amazon has taken for the final Harry Potter book, he did not expect to make a profit on it.

    AP said this “showed yet again that the company is willing to take a hit to cement customer loyalty.”

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  12. Rosie
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 15:58:02

    Thanks to some help from Melanie who posted here at DA, I got ebooks loaded on my Treo. While I’m grateful that I have a smaller device to lug (and read) ebooks from I’d love an easy to use, reasonably priced ebook reader. I’m still waiting and keep hoping for “the one” to make an appearance. Maybe it’s Kindle from Amazon…time will tell.

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  13. Shelly@Bewitched
    Jun 17, 2007 @ 20:25:46

    I just bought an eBookwise so please do not show me the wave of the future!!!! Of course I really refuse to pay $350 for an e-book reader. I really like my eBookwise, but I’m still favoring my print books. But of course I will be going on vacation soon so I might have to load my eBookwise up!

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  14. Jane
    Jun 18, 2007 @ 06:09:52

    Teleread.org just had an article yesterday that Sony is closing down all of its music and video sales via its Connect store. I don’t know what that means for the reader, but it probably doesn’t look good.

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  15. Roslyn
    Jun 18, 2007 @ 12:14:13

    I’m still waiting to see what Apple does. I’m very technologically limited and since I understand Macs, its probably best for me to stay with them. It’ll probably cost a kidney or two, but I’m willing to pay for ease of use.

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  16. Linda
    Jun 18, 2007 @ 23:44:07

    I haven’t invested in an ebook reading device yet, but I’ve been following many blog discussions about them.
    Tonight, while reading the posts on this blog, I realized what a smart move it would be for Amazon to offer up their new device (be it Kindle or another unit) at a bargain price. Putting customers first is a way to win ME over, that’s for sure! I’m already a loyal customer.
    It’s just like printer manufacturers practically giving away the hardware, knowing that customers will come back again and again for ink, and that’s how they make money.
    Of course if the Kindle can read ebooks beyond Mobipocket they are taking a chance by taking a loss on a reading device. It will be interesting to see what happens next…

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  17. Maya Reynolds
    Jun 19, 2007 @ 05:41:48

    Linda: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is a huge risk taker. He’s spent 12 years and $2 billion making all kinds of acquisitions from IMDB.com to Booksurge, a POD operation. Amazon.com started in 1995 but, despite its size and popularity, didn’t make a profit until 2003–largely because of his buying spree.

    I did a couple of posts about Amazon back in mid-November and couldn’t believe the number of companies Bezos had purchased OR the size of his vision for the company. Everyone is focussed on Google and Yahoo. I’d keep an eye on Amazon because, if Bezos’ gamble pays off, he will revolutionize Internet services.

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  18. Anadaslu
    Jun 20, 2007 @ 02:08:02

    Does anyone know what specs Bookeen will have?
    This dilemma of ebook readers is really killing me.. $300 is just way too much, so as ugly as it is, if Kindle reads most formats out there, I’m up for it. Doesn’t matter that most of my ebooks are in .lit format.

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