Technology manufacturers have been toying with electronic readers for about a decade. In 1971 Project Gutenberg began compiling the first digital library. In 1998 the soft book reader and the Rocket eBook were introduced. Franklin introduced the eBookman in 1999 which also had a pda and sound playing capabilities.
The problem with most of these early ereaders is that they were clunky and there just wasn’t enough book titles for mainstream readers to hop on the early adopter band wagon. In 2006 Philips and Sony introduced devices that were much more sleek and Sony introduced e-ink which is less glaring than staring at a regular computer screen.
These newer devices were sleek, but there were still issues with available eBook titles being in the proper format to be read on each ereader. It was also a cumbersome process to get the books onto your ereader from a computer or the Internet.
In 2007 Amazon changed all of that. They introduced a device that used a proprietary format, but it had access to the Amazon library, Amazon is the largest online book retailer and they have a big library. They also solved the problem of getting books from the Internet to your reader. The device had built in wireless called whispernet which allowed the user to download an entire book in less than 60 seconds.
You could also browse Amazons ever expanding, but already large digital book library, and pre-view the first chapter of any book without having to buy it.
Just the preview function alone is a dream come true for avid readers. The new device was very cool and had a nice feel and those who tried it out were happy with it, but it was nothing more than a neat gadget that some tech people had. Then a year later the Kindle debuted on the Oprah show and the rest was history. The popularity and features of the Kindle began to grow. Other companies started creating their own version of ereaders to compete with Amazon.
As the ereader caught on, Amazon continued to improve their product and introduced versions of the Kindle with more memory, better battery life, a sleeker look, and the ability to read more formats than just the proprietary Amazon format. Having a great gadget and a large bookstore gave Amazon the ereader edge. Apple has a large music store which could easily be expanded to a large book store. So they introduced their answer to the Kindle with the iPad. Although the iPad is much more than a book reader. It is like a giant pocket PC or PDA with access to the iTunes library.
The iPod is in color, but the shiny screen would probably be hard on the eyes for long reading sessions. The iPod is also more expensive than the Kindle and it is a proprietary Apple device. Apple aficionados will love the iPad, but not solely as an ereader.
There is a new device that is a color ereader and it can give the Kindle a run for it’s money. It even has a proprietary dedicated bookstore with a huge online presence and a brick and mortar presence. I am talking about the new NookColor by Barnes & Nobles. It is an ereader that can instantly preview and download Barnes & Noble titles. It can also read other formats, browse the Internet, and play games. The screen is a color touch screen and it has a neat kids book feature that can read picture stories to the kids and the screen will come to life when touched.
In a short time ereaders have come along way and just about any modern ereader device will bring you hours of enjoyment. These devices are great for traveling or vacations. It is also nice to relax with a library of books at your fingertips without ever having to go to a book shelf. E readers are here to stay and seem to be constantly improving.