With the news last week from Amazon that it was selling more ebooks than print books (hardbacks and paperbacks combined), it is hardly a surprise that this week we’ve see a trio of new ebook readers from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Kobo.
First up is the touchscreen Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch Reader which has done away with all but one of its buttons, replacing them with a 6in black and white e-ink touchscreen. The Simple Touch Reader will be Wi-Fi only as Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said 3G was not important to the customers it was targeting with the new ereader. It promises two months battery life on a single charge and also includes a new feature called Nook Friends which lets users see what their friends are reading, share, recommend, lend and borrow books. Next month, Barnes & Noble will launch MyNook.com. which will let users access a library, see friends’ recommendations, and shop from any computer and their Nook will sync wirelessly. However for those of us outside the US this is all a little pointless as, like all Nooks, the Simple Touch Reader will be only available in the US from 10 June for $139.
In an attempt to deflect some publicity from Barnes & Noble, Amazon responded by announcing the availability of its best-selling Kindle 3G at a lower price – but with added ads. In April Amazon announced the Kindle with Special Offers, a cheaper version of its Wi-Fi only Kindle with ads and Amazon promotions included to make up the loss in revenue. Now Amazon is making the 3G version of the Kindle available with ads at the reduced price of $164. Again there is no word from Amazon regarding the Kindle With Special Offers coming to regions outside the US.
Rounding out the trio of new ereaders, is the Kobo eReader Touch Edition which claims to have got around some of the issues previously plaguing e-ink touchscreens such as having low contrast and being on the dark side - by using infrared sensors to work out where your fingers are. This gives you a bright 6in display with swipe-to-turn pages, page scrubbing (like scrubbing a video), an on-screen keyboard, long press to highlight passages and words and even double-tap to zoom a PDF. Unlike the months-long battery life of the Barnes & Noble Simple Touch Reader, the Kobo eReader Touch Edition promises a battery life of two weeks.
Getting rid of the ugly hardware keyboard means the new Kobo weighs in at 200g, which is 40g lighter than the Wi-Fi only Kindle. There is also a SD card slot for memory expansion. It will work with all of Kobo’s current mobile apps and comes with a soft quilted back available in four colours. It will cost $130 in the States with UK pricing still to be announced. The older Kobo eReader has also had its price slashed to £99 and is available now in WH Smiths.
So it seems as if the eReader revolution is well and truly here to stay and with competition increasing and prices falling, it can only be a good thing – unless of course you are in the book printing industry that is.