While publishers face many short fourth comings in the eBook market, many large electronic companies have recently released their own digital eBook readers. Sony has been trying to become the iPod of the book world for the past three years, yet it’s latest improvements to its electronic book readers are disappointing, to say the least.
In a technologically progressive society, Sony’s new product will stand out like a sore thumb offering an abundance of restrictions (imposed by Sony) and a reminder of what technology was, ten or more years ago.
While Sony continues to fail miserably, other companies are starting to understand the complexities of this foreseen market. Franklin and Palm seem to have been successful in their PDA versions of electronic readers. Unlike the Sony reader, the existing PDAs have the ability to surf the web, send an email, and open files without restrictions.
The E-ink screen is a nice touch for trying to improve the experience of reading on-screen. Uses no backlight and sharp text similar to the quality of a laser printer. Could these little touches attract the masses to the efficient advantages of reading on a screen? Although the sales of eBooks are growing, they still account for only a fraction of the market.
Earlier in the week Amazon launched its own digital book reader, ‘Kindle.’ On sale for $399 US, it stores up to 200 books on its standard memory. What’s different from other portable media devices, is that the Kindle does not need to be loaded with content from a PC. Instead content will arrive via wireless. A nice innovation, but not great to debit users for content that is available free of charge to other web users. Even sending a file already purchased, users will incur a ten-cent charge for sending over the wireless network. Every user is granted a Kindle email address to send Word and PDF documents that the device automatically converts into a readable files.
On the plus side, the Kindle has buttons that link it directly to the Oxford American Dictionary and Wikipedia. The memory is extendable by the SD card, a small chip that digital camera users are now very familiar with.
For an electronic reader to be successful, the media stored on it needs to be accessible and trusted. The SD card has allowed users to open, share and store a variety of media. This card played a big role in the transition from manual to digital photography. Can the same card revolutionize the eBook industry? The timing of introducing a new unified media format couldn’t be better, as the previous era of tapes has almost completely been phased out. Could the SD card one day replace CD’s and Dvd’s, grant all people unrestricted and easily accessible access to all formats of media on one little card measuring a little over two centimeters.