Dawn of the e-book readers

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kindle 2 books
Photo - Wired.com

Talk of the town now is Kindle and e-book readers. I just wonder how they will replace the traditional paper book. Recently, some early adopters bought one version or the other but they complain of having to wait long for affordable prices. The temptation of gadgets, it seems, got the better of them eventually…

Tablets have become an incredible innovation which are great for travel and commuting. Moreover, they allow you to look into something in the book much faster than in a conventional book. But there is still something about the books. The smell of the books is enticing and they completely feed my soul. It is a tough task to assume the fate of traditional books in the era of e-reading technology.

I recollect the fact that printing press was invented in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg. Till then we had handwritten books which were praised and appreciated as work of art with elaborate calligraphy. In fact, they were treasured. Bible was the first book printed by Gutenberg. Before, only the priests and scholarly men would read the Bible but printing press made it available to everyone to read for themselves. Not only this but it also widened the availability of technologically advanced?books.

Critics back then were concerned that people would no more share the experience of exchanging books and religious leaders feared that people who read Bible on their own will come up with their own interpretation of the verses leading to whole raft of heresies. Printing of new books made an end to the ancient art form which was acknowledged as invaluable wealth but mass publication brought books within everyone’s reach. The technology kept on building up its pace and now we are in the era of e-readers.

“It makes complete sense for some books to be available digitally, such as textbooks and certain reference material, but traditional books will never go away entirely,” says Steve Cymrot, owner of Riverby Books in Washington DC. “A 200-year-old hand-bound text printed on rag paper is a thing of beauty, and that will never change.”

Increase in sales of e-readers not really leads to the decline in sales of traditional books. An Amazon.com report published in January 2011 said eBooks are rapidly outselling paperbacks. Some of the publishers took the report as a prophecy of bankruptcy. They altered their strategy and are now just focusing on e-books and e-reader sales in order to survive.

An August 2010 poll by Harris Interactive revealed that 8 per cent of Americans use e-readers and another 12 per cent is looking forward to using it in coming 6 months. The IMS Research says that in 2011 the sales of e-book readers are likely to reach more than 20 million.

ereaders comparison
Illustration - Paidcontent.org

Considering the popularity of e-readers, the traditional format may decline. Soon a day will come when e-readers like Amazon?s Kindle, The Sony reader, Borders Kobo and Barnes and Noble?s Nook will become one of the finest and popular devices for people.

Tablets mentioned above are one of the other e-reader devices which are equipped with features like MP3 support with touch screen and Wi-Fi, more like a laptop but portable and much smaller. Consumers are paying approximately $140 to $500 for an e-reader and many best seller books cost about $9.99 on average.

Undoubtedly, e-readers are more handy for book worms having the ability to store thousands of books in one easy device. Reading eBooks on kindle or iPad is now the biggest thing?since Gutenberg invented the printing press. Some might even suggest that the success of Amazon?s Kindle is throwing the world of publishing into a new age of controversy.

Researchers and surveyors came up with various answers when asked about the choice between ebooks and printed books. Many of them, especially baby boomers and older folks, are not much into gadgets or have the knowledge of electronic gadgetry. When asked to pick between convenience and technology, convenience would definitely be?their first preference.

Amazon recently claimed to sell 80% more digital books online than hard/paper back books. Introduced back in 2007, Kindle came with a display screen of 6 inches, 250 MB internal memory capacity that held 200 titles of non?illustrated books just?for $400.00. By 2009, Kindle 2 entered the market with better battery life, sleek body and held 1,500 non-illustrated books, which was as good as a pocket library. By May 2011, Kindle DX came which landscape or portrait layout with prices that started from $259.00. Amazon cut the prices drastically to $139.00 and made staggering profits.

Now, the online shopping giant and emerging e-book leader, has come up with the latest version of Kindle for only $114.00. And when it comes to cost effectiveness, this digital platform cuts down all the waste, cost of delivery, transportation and moreover keeping environment green by not cutting down trees. It becomes one of the cheapest options for book lovers where ebooks cost an average of ten dollars.

Following infographic shows the breakdown of where the dollars from e-book and traditional book sales are going:

ebooks vs real books
Photo - Printingchoice.com

Forrester Research suggests retailers will sell 6.6 million e-readers this year while Apple has already sold 3 million iPads, which are capable of reading Amazon Kindle e-books as well as Apple’s iBooks.

Association of American Publishers says e-books are up 200 per cent from last year. However, they still only represent 3-5 per cent of total sales for publishers, according to the New York Times.

Sales of hardcover books are also up 40 per cent since last year, indicating that while e-books are undoubtedly a big part of the future of long-term publishing, people will still be turning paper pages and enjoying the fragrance of books.

(Written by Manasa Kesiraju; Edited by Moign Khawaja)

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