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Friday, 25 March 2011

So what exactly is an E-book reader?

After asking this question both face-to-face and on-line I’ve come to the conclusion that every answer I got is both right and wrong.
So what it that supposed to mean you may ask?

Well, when I first heard of an e-reader it was referring to a dedicated e-ink reading device, which lead to me purchasing my trusty Sony Pocket 300, and eventually my wife’s Kindle. So I, like many others, had the notion that ‘e-reader’ universally meant on of these e-ink type devices to all people. Then I found out that not all of these dedicated devices used e-ink. Not only that, but most people reading e-books weren’t even using what I would have considered an e-reader at all.

Now, I was vaguely aware that some people used things like iPads and Tablet-PCs to read e-books, but statistically it seems that most people read e-books ether on a laptop or net-book PC. I didn’t really consider any of these to be viable e-reader platforms, so I did some research and apparently I was very wrong. But that wasn’t the end of it by a long chalk. I was genuinely surprise to find out a lot of on-line sites saying a large percentage of people use their mobile-phone as their primary e-reader. I realise none if this may exactly be news to a lot of people but it spurred me on to try and find out just what you can read an e-book on and how many people seem to primarily use what.

Of the twenty or so people I talked to face-to-face, five used a dedicated e-reader, 4 of which used a Kindle. On-line that percentage seamed to remain roughly the same, although the non-kindle percentage was slightly higher. Most people from both groups used their laptop or net-book, so the statistics seemed to be bearing out. I did specifically ask about using phones as e-readers and roughly a quarter of people said they had readers on their phones, but mostly used it for downloading news and or short-texts rather than entire e-novels. I didn’t find anyone who said the use a phone as their primary e-reader. It may-be that I just wasn’t hitting the right demographic for this, I don’t know.
I wouldn’t clame my little experiment to be scientific or representational in any way, but it would be interesting to find out other peoples results.

Just as another little bit of an experiment I gathered up all the (non-e-reader-dedicated) hand-held electronic gizmos I could find lying around the house and decided to see how many I could read an e-book on.
I found that I could read an e-book on the following: PC, Laptop, net-book, original iPod, iPod mini, MP4 player, stills camera, video camera, SatNav, Palm Z22 Personal Organiser, Android Phone, Blackberry, and last but not least the good old Nintendo DS… actually the SatNav was quite good to read off, decent sized screen, little glare and quite long battery life!

So what exactly is an E-book reader? Well, honestly I think it’s pretty much anything that people read e-books on. Is that a cop-out answer? I don’t think so. I think it’s currently the only honest answer I can give. What do you think?

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