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Ebook Readers for 2007

Despite my initial misgivings, I did go ahead and purchase a Sony Reader. I love the idea of the Sony Reader with its clear screen, sleek design and perfect size. I was disenchanted with its software program, both the Connect and the Reader’s own software. The lack of a good reader is holding some people back. We often hear of the complaint that readers don’t want to spend 3 hours a night looking at their computer monitor. I wouldn’t be an ebook fan if that is what it took to read an ebook either. However, despite advancements there is no IPOD for ITUNES. Frankly there is neither an IPOD or an ITUNES in the ebook market.

The one good thing about the Sony Reader’s release is that other manufacturers are realizing that there is money to be made in the ebook market. Here are some contenders for the best Reader of 2007. Of course, whether any of these materialize remains to be seen.

Amazon KindleThe Amazon Kindle. The rumors of the Kindle started surfacing around September of 2006 showcasing a really, really ugly case. In the spring of 2005, Amazon acquired French ebook software maker Mobipocket. Amazon currently sells ebooks only through the Mobipocket store thereby circumventing digital warehouser, Lightning Source. There are further rumors that the Kindle will be low priced, maybe around $50 with some kind of tying agreement similar to cell phones or a subscription based service. The Kindle features an e ink 6-inch 800 x 600 display, with 256 MB of internal storage, a SD slot, keyboard with cursor bar and scroll wheel. The FCC documents also show a standard mini USB port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

StarEBOOKSTAReBook is a Linux-based ebook reader from Taiwan. It supports only its proprietary format but is supposed to includes a windows pc based application to convert your own text, doc, html, and pdf into the STAReBook format (STK). This has not been verified. It also claims to play audio files in the mp3 format. There is 64MB of user file storage with a SD/MMC slot supportable up to 1 GB.

Before Jim Baen passed, he charged the Baen Bar with developing an ereader that would meet the needs of the Baen readership. The Baen Bar intends to deliver on that charge sometime in 2007. The ebook reader will run the FBReader software and be able to read all the formats that Baen offers. It will feature some amount of text searching but does not include a touchscreen or keyboard, both of which would increase the price point a great deal. Currently, the Baen Bar is looking at e ink devices offered by Bookeen but also displays by Kent which are cholesteric LCDs. The cholesteric LCD screens have a higher degree of visibility in the sunlight than ordinary LCDs and are, of course, backlit, allowing nighttime reading without an additional lightsource.

The Baen Reader would be available to any purchaser. The purchase would be made through paypal and currently has a price point slightly below the Sony Reader. This is definitely one to watch.

BookeenBookeen. Bookeen is another who has the right idea for ebook readers. It offered the Cybook which had the ability to read html, rtf, docs, pdbs natively (without conversion). The Cybook came preloaded! with my favorite ereading program: Gowerpoint’s  µbook. It also had the ability to read secure Mobipocket books. I think Bookeen understands the need for a device to read multiple formats. If the Cybook came with an eink screen and the price point was close the Sony Reader, it’s one I could recommend without hesitation because I think that screen size and readability even without the built in backlight would be awesome. The drawback is the E Ink device offered by Bookeen is not for sale individually but can be bought in units of 200. Mobile Read is trying to gather up enough readers to make a group purchase.

Panasonic Words GearPanasonic Words Gear is probably the nicest color ebook reader on the market. It has a 1024×600 resolution 5.6 inch full color panel display. It has about 6 hour battery life and not only allows you to read books but also is capable of displaying video and photographs and playing music.
Another unique feature is the ability of the Words Gear reader to orient its content to whichever way is up, allowing both right handed and left handed users the same ease of use. It is unknown whether this product will be for sale in the US.

The 2007 Consumer Electronics Show happens in January so who knows what will show up there and knock our reading glasses off.

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

12 Comments

  1. Tilly Greene
    Dec 24, 2006 @ 12:39:48

    You guys are the best! May 2007 be a fabulous year for you and yours, and I’ll continue to come over, read some great reviews and find out what’s happening in the ebiz – hopefully there will be a perfect reader coming out soon!

    ReplyReply

  2. TeddyPig
    Dec 25, 2006 @ 12:22:50

    I keep wondering if the answer here is just to get a good PDA and forget the dedicated ebook readers?

    It’s more expensive but it seems to make sense since you can do more to keep it up to date and usable due to the lack of standard file types.

    ReplyReply

  3. LinM
    Dec 26, 2006 @ 09:49:21

    Once again a 5 minute visit to DearAuthor ends up taking several hours. I’ve now:
    a) started a want list for my next ebook reader (Sony doesn’t come close).
    b) discovered that Gowerpoint’s  µbook lite is not ready for prime time on the palm TX (the orange logo screen of death is imprinted on my eyeballs).
    c) installed FBReader on my linux laptop – I’ve decided that this is a keeper.

    Thanks for an informative, thought-provoking site. Just WOW!

    ReplyReply

  4. Candy
    Dec 27, 2006 @ 18:22:36

    I just wanted to comment on the Bookeen reader you showed. I currently own a Cybook and love it, but I really like the look of the Generation 2 reader they show on their web site (above the one you reference) It has a little bit bigger screen size (which apeals to me as I read everything in a very large font) and you should see all of the ebook reader software that comes on it – every major one is listed I think. I would love to know their asking price, because you only have to order 5 of them instead of 200. Here is the link to it. http://www.bookeen.com/Design/ebook-reading-device.aspx?selectionm=2.

    PS: I have really enjoyed your web site since I followed a link from the another site.

    ReplyReply

  5. Michael Jahn
    Dec 28, 2006 @ 10:46:46

    When I read this – I was confused — “Amazon currently sells ebooks only through the Mobipocket store thereby circumventing digital warehouser, Lightning Source.”

    Does Lightning Souce wearhouse digital files for Amazon – ? I would think think Amazon might use Lightning Sources parent – Ingram – to warehouse physical books, but would be shocked to learn that they would be managing the Amazon web site and the eBook portion of their business.

    ReplyReply

  6. Jane
    Dec 28, 2006 @ 10:51:10

    Amazon used to carry ms lit and adobe ebooks. This was sourced through Ingram’s digital division, Lightning Source. When Amazon bought Mobipocket, it stopped carrying all those other formats and stopped using Lightning Source as its delivery service for ebooks. If you want to buy an ebook, the link from Amazon takes you directly to Mobipocket.

    When I mean sourced, Lightning Source actually stores the digital files on their servers and when you download a book from them, the download comes from a lightning source link. This is true for Fictionwise and other etailers.

    ReplyReply

  7. Danielle
    Dec 30, 2006 @ 21:13:18

    I purchased a eReader from eBookwise.com a sister company of Fictionwise.com. I’ve just been buying my books from eBookwise because i know the format will be correct. I am not computer savvy.

    ReplyReply

  8. Nancy N.
    Jan 02, 2007 @ 21:56:05

    Cybook warning: I purchased a Cybook in June 2006. The Cybook ships from France and I live in the United States. As soon as I received the Cybook/package I noticed the Cybook had a large crack down the middle of the screen. I contacted the company the same day. After exchanging several emails with the company and offering to email or mail pictures of the box and/or Cybook, they told me to return it to France for repair or replacement. Assuming the company would reimburse me for the return shipment, I paid more than $60.00 to ship it back to France. Eventually, I received the orignal Cybook’s replacement. At that point I asked to be reimbursed for the cost of most, or all of the money for the return shipment of the damaged product. The company avoided responding to my requests for reimbursement although they responded to questions regarding Cybook problems I made in the same emails. I have also had various other problems with the Cybook and would not recomend it. It is definitely not worth the very expensive cost (etc.).

    ReplyReply

  9. NatCh
    Jan 08, 2007 @ 15:06:37

    [quote comment="16395"]I keep wondering if the answer here is just to get a good PDA and forget the dedicated ebook readers?[/quote]

    If that works for you, you should definitely go for it.

    Personally, I find the larger screen, and reduced eyestrain that I get with e-ink to be a much better solution, and since it’s not that hard to get the things I want to read in RTF format …. (shrug)

    ReplyReply

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