Last year, there were more sales for e-books than printed books. On March 5 this year, Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest chain of bookstores, acquired online e-book vendor, Fictionwise. President of BN, William J Linch said: “The market hasn’t been that developed to date. We think it’s a big growth area going forward.”
Many people like to purchase and read e-books and e-magazines through lightweight handheld readers today. Several companies have come up with innovative, standalone e-book readers, such as Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Hanlin eReader (aka Endless Ideas BeBook), etc; these thin elegant gadgets can take people back to the era of reading. Let’s have a look at some of these readers in this article.
E-books and E-magazines: How Do They Work?
E-books can be of two types: those which can be read on a computer and those which require special devices to read. There are several formats for e-books including Adobe PDF, Microsoft LIT, Palm PDB, etc. In order to buy an e-book, you go to the online vendor of the e-book, pay and register your reader for DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection, and download the e-book to the registered reader. Since only the registered e-book reader can read this e-book, the author and the publisher are protected from piracy. Digital copying is not possible with DRM protection.
Popular E-book Readers
There are many reading devices available in the market, and most of them work with electronic paper technology by E Ink Corporation.
In 2008, an Apple iPhone app for reading e-books in iPhone had a surge of sales (even more than the sales total of Amazon Kindle). This made iPhone one of the popular devices to read e-books. But in this article, we will be looking only at specialized e-book readers.
1. Amazon Kindle
Perhaps the most popular of e-book readers, Amazon Kindle had a sales total of 380,000 units in 2008 in the US alone. Kindle is now in the next generation with the advent of Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX this year (DX is already out of stock). According to Digital Book Readers, K-DX offers native PDF support, has an iPhone-like accelerometer that changes the orientation of the screen when you rotate the Reader and is more suitable for reading electronic versions of newspapers, magazines, and formatted books. With the ability to keep thousands of e-books in storage and easy access to the online Amazon e-book store, Kindle is perhaps the first choice of anyone looking for a standalone e-book reader.
The display is like normal paper and easy to read. Kindle has wireless capabilities to access the online book store and magazine store of Amazon. Kindle 2 has a 600 x 800 (6 inch) display. It can receive books through the high-speed Sprint 3G network, nationally available. Supported formats include the Amazon proprietary format, AZW (DRM-restricted), PRC, TXT, and PDF (some of these formats may need to be converted to AZW).
2. Sony Reader
Sony Digital Book Reader is the popular e-book reader from Sony, and there have been already three editions of this-PRS-500, PRS-505, and PRS-700.
The reader has a 600 x 800 pixel electronic paper display (EPD), similar to Kindle, and the display is 8-level grayscale. PRS-700 edition, unlike others, sports a touch screen. The supported e-book formats include BBeB book (from Marlin), TXT, RTF, ePub, Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (DOC). It supports JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP for images; and MP3 and AAC for audio.
3. iRex iLiad
iRex iLiad, similar to Kindle and Sony Reader, makes use of the electronic paper display and comes at 768 x 1024 (8 inches) resolution. It has 16-level grayscale screen.
Through Wi-Fi, LAN, USB connectivity, or a network using a MyiRex account, you can transfer e-books to the reader. The supported e-book formats include Adobe PDF, MOBI, PRC, HTML, and TXT.
4. Hanlin eReader
Hanlin eReader, known in various brand names across the world, such as Endless Ideas BeBook, is a popular e-book reader. It has a 600 x 800 resolution, 4-level grayscale display. It connects through a USB port.
Unlike other readers mentioned above, this reader supports almost all popular file formats for e-books-Adobe PDF, CHM, DJVU, DOC, ePub, FB2, HTM, LIT, MOBI, PPT, PRC, RTF, TXT, WOLF. It also supports archiving formats like ZIP and RAR; image formats like BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF; and audio format, MP3.
Most of these e-book readers come with revolutionary E-Ink technology developed by E Ink Corporation. This is a digital paper display, which gives the experience of reading actual paper. With the storage space for thousands of e-books and ability to keep battery power for thousands of page turns or several hours, these e-book readers can be regarded as portable libraries. Since they can connect to some network to purchase and download popular fiction and non-fiction from online e-book vendors, they can provide great reading experience when you are on a long-distance journey.