Thursday, March 25, 2010

Indigo Launches E-Reader - Who Cares?

The CBC's reporting that Canadian big box bookstore chain Indigo is launching its own e-book reader, the Kobo. The $149 device is reportedly intended to take a swipe at Amazon's Kindle.

So what?

Watching the raft of e-reader announcements over the past couple of years, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that this is a dead-end technology. Like the PDA fad of the 90's (which I bought into), I think the e-book devices are destined to fall prey to the ubiquitous cell phone.

After all, Apple's iPhone has apps that can download and read e-books, and since every other cell phone manufacturer seems to be falling all over themselves to imitate the iPhone's form and function, it's a pretty good guess that other phones can do this too. If that's the case, legions of people already own (and will own, as they gradually upgrade from older format phones to iPhones and their clones) phones that are capable of reading e-books and are much more portable than the e-book readers. Why would they bother spending more money on another gadget? I'm a book addict, and I wouldn't! Now, you may argue that some people will be seduced by the larger screen the e-readers offer. But come on, if it's a larger reading surface you're looking for, why not just download and read off of a netbook? In this neck of the woods, netbooks are almost as standard under every arm and in every briefcase, backpack and purse as cellphones are, so again, no need to go out and spend more on an e-reader.

Then of course, there's the good, old-fashioned, paper book. No batteries or waiting on charging times or jacking up your electric bill required to make them work. And real books look, feel and smell nice too. Some things are made to last forever.

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