Perhaps no electronic gadget has taken the world by storm as fast as the e-reader. After first appearing on the market in 2007, the Kindle by Amazon has changed the face of the publishing industry. It completely altered the way people purchase and experience “printed” material and spawned a host of like products, including the Nook by rival Barnes and Noble. For the first time, sales of electronic books recently eclipsed sales of traditional bound books. One notable title – Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” became the first book to sell more than one million digital copies.
That’s an amazing amount of change in a very short time.
As with any gadget, the technology changes quickly. Amazon has already introduced its third generation of the Kindle with 3G and the Nook is now available in color. Other companies offer competing products with similar features, and e-reading software has been developed for computers, tablet computers, and smart phones. Buy a book for your Kindle, and you can download the Kindle app for your iPhone so you’re never without your favorite titles.
The ease of using an e-reader seems to be what draws most people. An entire library of books can be carried in one device that isn’t much larger than a traditional paperback, and isn’t nearly as thick. E-readers with wireless access allow book lovers to download their favorite titles whenever and wherever they choose – including popular newspapers and magazines. And for the end-user these titles typically cost much less than their traditionally printed versions.
But how does the publishing industry feel about this? When e-readers were first developed, some feared it was a death knell for the struggling industry. But publishers have embraced the technology; many are creating divisions wholly devoted to pumping out quality digital content. The number and variety of available titles will continue to grow, and the technology will continue to steadily improve. E-readers are here to stay.