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Monday, June 28 2010

Apple rules the world. If you doubt this, take a look at the ridiculously long lines outside any Apple store when a new product is released, the fanfare over Apple's annual convention, or the news coverage that was generated when an iPhone prototype slipped out into the world after an employee left it in a bar.

So I can't help but wonder what impact the iPad will have on e-readers. While e-books represent a small percentage of annual sales, they are the fastest growing division. And book sellers like Borders and Barnes and Noble want to corner the market with their own e-readers. Just this week, Barnes and Noble announced a major price drop in its Nook. Hours later (or was it only minutes?) Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle. One analyst speculated that the price of these e-readers will drop to only $99 by the end of the year. And personally, I think they'll have to if they want to survive.

An e-reader is just that. A reader. A device that allows you to read books. You can't surf the web. You can't check your email. Heck, you can't even type up a quick note. You can only read books. The main selling point of an e-reader is the price. $499 vs. $99 would be a significant difference, should e-reader prices drop that low. And, of course, e-readers don't require a monthly service fee. But while I cringe at the intrusion of more service fees into my life, most people don't even notice. What's $15 a month in the scheme of things? Why, that's only about 50 cents a day. Mere peanuts.

At this point, I should mention that I own neither an e-reader nor an iPad. But I know, some time in the distant future, I'll break down and buy one. I refused to believe that CDs would one day replace cassette tapes. And if you're about to tell me CDs are on their way out, please save your breath. I won't listen. I even plugged my ears when my husband insisted DVDs would make VCRs obsolete. But I was wrong in both cases. Do I think e-readers will forever replace the fantastic experience of curling up in a comfy chair with a paperback? Will everyone start using their fingertips to change pages on a screen rather than that lovely tactile experience of gripping a piece of paper and turning it over? Not likely in my lifetime. But already some books are only available on e-readers. And if I want to read those books, I'll need to purchase a device.  But once I have my Kindle, will I regret my choice when my friends show me the latest awesome trick their iPads can do? Will I set my e-reader aside to collect dust while I run out and buy an iPad after all?

Lucky for me, I have a whole stack of unread books haunting me every time I walk by my bookshelf. A stack that will take me months to read. So I can save my decision for another day. And if I wait long enough, e-readers will become obsolete on their own, saving me the trouble.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 09:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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