eInk eBook Readers: They’re All Dead, Jim!

Teleread reports on a rumored US$150 eInk ebook reader.

Too little, too late.

Next month the apps will start to flow for the iPhone and the iPod Touch (as well as any iPod Air or whatever it will be called).

And with that flow will come more ebook reading software choices than anyone could imagine.

In addition, if the price of the EDGE iPhone drops to $199 with an AT&T subsidy, why would anyone in their right mind want to spend:

$400 for an Amazon Kindle,

$300 for a Sony Reader,

or even $150 for this latest device?

Sure, I gave reasons why I favored the Sony Reader.

But check that date. That was over a year ago: October 2006.

Well before the iPhone.

The iPhone and iPod Touch can offer a more book-like reading experience than any of the current eInk devices. (Sidebar: Someone at Sony might have read that post. Their site touting a special James Patterson edition of the Sony Reader contains this ersatz rendition of Coverflow:

— too late! And eInk can’t do that anyway.)

In addition, the iPhone and iPod Touch are pocketable to take along everywhere, they have better screens, offer the promise of over-the-air ebook purchasing like the Kindle (but better!), and they won’t restrict people to one ebook format.

And that’s only to begin with.

Because of their color screen, more memory, more storage, and more powerful CPU, they offer the possibility of entirely new ebook formats with embedded audio and video clips.

And let’s not forget the pinch-out ability to immediately increase the typeface size. Current eInk readers restrict everyone to sizes that are already built-in.

Does this mean Apple will also announce their entry into ebooks?

Not necessarily.

Apple would be very content to let others do that for a while and establish the market. Then — and it would be insidious — announce their own ebook file format, software, and section in the iTunes Store. Before then, they can watch sales for the Kindle and Sony Reader shrivel and die. Without that competition, the field would then be wide open.

Sony gave it a good try. They really did.

Amazon wasn’t even close.

But that’s it, guys. They’re all dead, Jim.

He’s dead, Jim!

Explore posts in the same categories: Books - Other, eBooks, Tech - Apple, Tech - Other, Tech - Sony

12 Comments on “eInk eBook Readers: They’re All Dead, Jim!”

  1. jeffbot Says:

    I’m still reading books on my 2003 PocketPC … have more eBooks than paper-bound ones by far. People just keep uploading ’em to file sharing networks *the same way they do music.*

    As an author … well, what do you think I think? I’m a little conflicted.

  2. mikecane Says:

    *kicking Jeff in his shins*

    I hope you are NOT admitting to committing any illegal acts here!

    Yeah, the problem of ebook piracy is big.

    I’m of two minds:

    1) Most of the people doing the stealing will NEVER read them, so those shouldn’t be counted as lost sales at all

    2) Some writers have *encouraged* piracy and found it to be one of the best sales tools. See here:


    Also, did you read up on the “1,000 True Fans” stuff here?


    And there’s also this:


    And this:


    I haven’t done any post yet that codifies all my views. No time. As usual.

  3. Pendergast Says:

    Hello. I think you’re totally wrong. Iphone can’t beat e-ink devices. Another thing is that apple release an iphone without brigtness and e-ink, with colour, and with all the features of the iphone and with no damage to your sight, but that is not gonna happen.
    A device with brightness can’t beat e-ink devices, never.

    I would like to be wrong and probably you know more than me about this topic. I’ve been using sony reader for 6 months and I wouldn’t change it for an iphone. Reading in the sony, as you know, is absolutely relaxing for your eyes (I had previously used an Axim x51v for reading ebooks and it was very tyring after half and hour of reading).

  4. […] iPhone in the next months will be the ability to read ebooks.In fact Mike Cane went so far as to declare all other ereaders […]

  5. […] Mike Cane] Mike Cane says eReaders are dead “Next month the apps will start to flow for the iPhone and the iPod […]

  6. James Smith Says:

    Cybook failed.

    I purchased a Cybook Gen3 from Booken. I was pleased with the promptness of the shipping and the pre-sale service I received.

    Unfortunately, the unit failed in less than a week. The display no longer worked and would show a random series of horizontal lines. This happened after I had been using the unit for an hour or so after lunch. I turned it off and placed it face down on top of a paperback book to protect the screen. About two hours later, I turned it on and it no longer worked. The unit had no had any trauma such as being dropped, hit, or placed in an improper environment.

    Booken has declined to repair or replace the unit under warranty saying that “the warranty does not cover broken parts”. I wonder what, if anything, the warranty does cover?

    They have offered to repair the unit for 100 Euros plus shipping each way (I live in Brazil). I suspect this is about their cost for a new unit.

    I was fairly satisfied with the product, but reliability seems to be an issue. The company ethics also seems to be a major problem. If you are considering this eBook reader, I would give some serious thought as to whether you could afford to deal with a situation like this.

  7. TF Says:

    Sure, apps will start to flow for the iPhone and the iPod, but they still wont give you the experience of e-ink readers. Try reading a book on an e-ink reader (reflects) and then on a device that emits light (phone, pda, etc) and you will notice the difference. E-ink readers give you the experience closest to reading an actual book. Light emitting devices put a strain on your eyes and are power hungry. An e-ink reader can last for months without a recharge or battery change.

  8. mikecane Says:

    Try getting Cover Flow on an eInk device.

    To be serious: Sure, some people will prefer them. But I think the potential for a true mass-market has come and gone. Sony made several errors that wound up giving the thunder to Amazon. And Amazon won’t release sales figures — which, if it was such a Big Smash, I’m sure they would have, just for gloating rights.

  9. alan Says:

    I own both a iphone and a sony prs-505. You are dead wrong. Tiny type on a iphone with a lit screen that is hard on the eyes, and almost impossible to read in sunlight. OR Clear legible type thats easy on the eyes, and displaying a full page of text even in sunlight?

    Oh and battery life-a flight to China lasts 12 hours or so. the iphone dies within 5, leaving you NO phone at your destination. Alternatively read the eink book, and its all good the entire trip.

    Camping? yeah the iphone is dead.

  10. mikecane Says:

    There are wee powerpacks to extend the battery life of an iPhone. Some even use off-the-shelf alkaline batteries. So that issue is false.

    eInk limits you to monochrome. Go on, hand a monochrome eInk reader to a child. Watch how fast it bores them. Hand them a color screen device. Watch them become absorbed. And what about comic books? Settle for grey scale? Printed ones are color (excluding Manga). What about reference works with color illustrations?

    Sure, I make allowances for your personal preference, but you will be in the minority. Until eInk disappears altogether.

  11. Dave Says:

    Well untill they make iPhones with 10″ screens like are available now (iRex) I doubt they are giong to kill them. Reading a PDF on a 3″ 480×240 LCD? No. Reading a PDF on a 10″ 1024 x 1280 e-ink screen, OK.

  12. mikecane Says:

    If you read other posts, you’ll see I’ve basically changed my mind about eInk-based readers. Although Stanza towers over them all with half a million downloads right now.

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