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E-readers are Here to Stay

Many have said that 2009 is the year of the e-reader, and I firmly agree. Others think it will be 2010, but I believe the e-reader has entered the public's consciousness enough that I call 2009 the tipping point. I have been excited by the prospects of e-readers since I first heard of them, around ten years ago. The idea of being able to carry a whole bookshelf worth of books on a single book-sized device is very compelling. I know there are people out there that thrill to the feel, smell, and heft of an actual book, but I'm not one of them. I'll be happy to get rid of the majority of my printed books once I own digital copies of them.
I recently received an e-reader as a gift - the Sony PRS-300. I'm in love. For me, it's easier to obtain ebooks and transfer them to the e-reader than it is to transfer music onto my iPod Shuffle. The startup time is a little slow for this device, but I'm sure that's been sped up for the new Sony Daily Edition model. Once it's on, I can quickly jump to any book in my library, and the device remembers where I leave off in a book so I don't have to. The battery life is great; so far I have only used one bar on the battery meter. The device is heavy for its size, and comes with a really protective sleeve. It fits great in my purse, allowing me to keep it handy for whenever I have a few minutes of downtime. 

While the publishing industry has already made great strides in making content available, I believe there is more work to be done. For example, the DRM challenges related to the Kindle are off-putting to a lot of people, including me. It's why I ended up with a Sony; I wanted to be able to download books from the public library rather than buying them. I will certainly end up buying some books that I know I will read multiple times, but the vast majority of books I would rather borrow than buy. Now that other models with wireless connections are becoming available, the Kindle loses some of its cachet. I believe that the book publishing world is headed in the same direction music has gone: switching to digital distribution, lower and standardized prices, and DRM-free content. A happy side effect of the growth of e-readers is more people reading for enjoyment and rediscovering the classics, most of which are now available for free, thanks to Project Gutenberg. Semico just published a study on e-readers; if you're interested in this market you should check it out: E-readers: Reader Me This, Reader Me That.

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