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Friday, March 25, 2011

The Revolution of e-book Readers

By: Jessica Lerner
Over the last several years, there has been an astounding increase in the popularity of e-book readers. However, due to the increase of e-readers, major bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders are beginning to suffer. Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookstore chain, reported a net loss of $63 million for the third quarter of 2010. The world’s second largest chain, Borders, recently declared bankruptcy.
            Representatives of Borders put partial blame on e-book readers. It is not entirely the massive increase of e-book readers that is at fault, but an error that the store made ten years ago.
            In 2001, Borders allowed Amazon to manage its e-commerce business. Amazon, however, had no reason to promote Borders. The partnership was dissolved in 2007, but by this time, Borders lagged hugely behind Barnes & Noble in selling on books online.
            Borders was also slow in responding to the increasing popularity of e-books. Amazon released their own e-book reader, the Kindle, in 2007, followed by Barnes & Noble’s release of the Nook in 2009.
            Borders ended up partnering with Kobo Inc. The Kobo eReader, however, is not as well known, and is lower-profiled. Readers tend to buy either the Kindle or the Nook; the Kobo eReader has failed to gather much traction.
            The closing of about 200 Borders stores is necessary in order to try to save the company. Many smaller bookstores will benefit from this.
            It is ironic that one of the causes of Borders’ failures may in fact help them in the future. They plan to put a larger emphasis on the usage of e-book readers. This may help them as the world of electronic devices is taking off.
However, there are benefits to using e-book readers. For one thing, they are thinner and smaller than an actual book. E-book readers can store up to thousands of books, while carrying around even a few books can be heavy and take up space when traveling.
They are cheaper to buy than hardcover and paperback books, and they can be read almost instantaneously, after downloading them. Buying hardcover and paperback books is more expensive and require a trip to a bookstore; it can take days for these books to arrive by mail.
Because e-book readers are electronic, they do not use paper, and are, therefore, environmentally friendly. No paper is necessary to make e-book readers.
The font size can be resized, making it easier for people with impaired vision to read e-book readers. Also, with the addition of certain software, some e-book readers can be turned into audio books.
E-book readers also have Internet access and wi-fi connectivity. Amazon’s newest Kindle 3G has free 3G wireless, so wi-fi connectivity is not needed to access the Internet. There are also games and other features or applications, which make e-book readers more than a reading device.
 The idea of e-book readers has been around since the 1970s. It is only in the last decade that the development of portable reading devices allowed e-book readers to be possible and flourish.
No one knows what will happen in the next years, but the creation of e-book readers is headed in the right direction to the advancement of technology.